PRRD forms task force to end armed conflict

By Azer Parrocha

December 10, 2018, 9:36 pm

MANILA -- President Rodrigo R. Duterte has created a national task force to “end” local communist armed conflict and adopt a national peace framework in the country as part of government’s continued efforts to achieve peace.

Under Executive Order No. 70, signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea by authority of the President last Dec. 4, the task force is mandated to formulate a National Peace Framework which shall include, among others, a mechanism for local peace engagements or negotiations and interventions within six months.

“To ensure comprehensive orchestration of related peace efforts and initiatives of national government agencies, local government units and various sectors of civil society, there is a need to formulate a National Peace Framework anchored on the Whole-of-Nation approach, which shall include, among others, a mechanism for local peace engagements or negotiations and interventions that is consistent with constitutional integrity and national sovereignty, responsive to local needs, and sensitive to realities on the ground,” the order read.

According to the EO, the Whole-of-Nation approach prioritizes the delivery of basic services and social development packages by the government, facilitates societal inclusivity, and ensures active participation of all sectors of the society in the pursuit of the country's peace agenda.

“The Framework shall contain principles, policies, plans, and programs that will bring inclusive and sustainable peace, and address the root causes of insurgencies, internal disturbances and tensions as well as other armed conflicts and threats in identified areas,” the order said.

The President will lead the task force as chair while the National Security Adviser will serve as Vice Chair.

It will also be composed of 18 top government officials including the Interior Secretary, Justice Secretary, Defense Secretary, Public Works Secretary, Budget Secretary, Finance Secretary, Agrarian Reform Secretary, Social Welfare Secretary, Education Secretary, National Economic and Development Authority Director General, and National Intelligence Coordinating Agency Director General.

The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority Director General, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Presidential Adviser for Indigenous Peoples' Concerns, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff, Philippine National Police Director General, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples Chair, Communications Secretary, and two representatives from the private sector will also be members of the task force.

The Task Force must also be rendered functus officio upon the accomplishment of the purposes for which it was created or unless sooner dissolved by the President.

It shall take effect upon its publication in the Official Gazette or any newspaper of general circulation.

Earlier, Duterte terminated peace negotiations, stressing that communist rebels continuous killing of military and police personnel and their refusal to lay down their arms despite ongoing talks.

The government, however, remains open to localized peace talks but only under the President’s conditions, including holding them in the Philippines. (PNA)