The Western Visayas Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF6-ELCAC) is committed to pursuing just and lasting peace by ending local insurgency next year through the Whole-of-Nation approach.
“Before the President’s term ends, we shall strive to put an end to the 52-year-old insurgency by bringing basic social services to the grassroots level, building roads to far-flung barangays, winning the hearts and minds of the masses, depriving the communist terrorist groups of their lairs, safe havens and community bases,” Associate Provincial Prosecutor Flosemer Chris Gonzales, the spokesperson of the regional task force, said in a statement on Tuesday.
President Rodrigo Duterte, in his last State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, highlighted the efforts of the national task force in addressing the root cause of the armed conflict.
Gonzales said members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) who will return to the fold of the government will not be left behind in the provision of the necessary government services.
“We will ensure that you and your families will be provided with adequate livelihood, a peaceful community, and hope for a better future,” he said as he called on their remaining members to “abandon their lost cause and dying ideology,” he added.
Maj. Cenon Pancito III, the spokesperson of the Philippine Army’s (PA) 3rd Infantry Division (3ID), welcomed the President’s mention of the efforts of the task force.
“We know that this is the meat of what we are doing in the Armed Forces of the Philippines. We wanted development and progress but there are problems on insurgency,” he said in a phone interview.
He said the acknowledgment by the President is a testament that it is not only the AFP that is working but the government as a whole, driven by the political will of the country’s leader to end the insurgency.
“This would somehow also suggest that the AFP is not left alone to do the job. But we have been telling this that insurgency cannot be solved by merely pure military solution but should be a whole-of-nation approach,” Pancito added.
Within the area of operation of the 3ID, a total of 102 Yunit Militia members or “NPA in the Barrios” surrendered to the government while 440 supporters and sympathizers withdrew their support from the armed group in the first semester of 2021.
Also, a total of 153 barangays have been cleared from the influence of the communist terrorist group.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the Philippines.
Meanwhile, Pancito said the Philippine Army is happy with the President’s mention of his efforts to help soldiers not just through capability upgrade but also by boosting their morale and increasing their salary.