MANILA – The government's whole-of-nation approach and concerted efforts to dismantle communist terrorist groups (CTGs) have inspired various multi-sectoral groups to also speak up against the deceptions of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its front organizations.
Liga Independencia Pilipinas (LIPI) secretary general, Jose Antonio “Ka Pep” Goitia, said communist activities have evidently declined during the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
"The President has inspired us to take an active role in combating those who oppose our ideals, rights, and way of life," he told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) over the weekend.
Goitia cited that several high-ranking officials of the New People's Army (NPA), the armed wing of the CPP, have surrendered and are now working with the government to denounce the atrocities of CTGs.
"The communists' activities have been on the decline. Thousands of NPA cadres have surrendered their arms in order to live in peace and become responsible citizens of the Philippines. This was the result of a concerted effort to abolish the CPP-NPA-NDF (National Democratic Front) under the whole-of-nation approach in order to achieve inclusive and sustainable peace," he said.
LIPI is one of the multi-sectoral groups that has been staging rallies to call out the CPP-NPA-NDF for its "relentless exploitation of youth and indigenous peoples".
Goitia said the communist rebels are also manipulating marginalized sectors to overthrow the government.
Duterte's term is in its final year but Goitia said the fight to end the communist revolution in the country must continue.
He said the Filipino people deserve freedom against the tyranny, oppression, violence, killings of the innocent, and the long-standing armed insurgency brought by CTGS nationwide.
"One of the President's greatest achievements in achieving everlasting peace in the countryside was signing Executive Order (EO) 70, which institutionalized the whole-of-nation approach to achieving inclusive and sustainable peace," he said.
Goitia said the creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) under EO 70 has been "greatly beneficial" to achieving long-lasting peace within the NPA-infiltrated areas.
"The NTF-ELCAC's Barangay Development Program is one of the government's most worthwhile initiatives. The program provided incentives and services that resulted in the communist threat being removed from more than 800 barangays," he added.
Duterte's tough response against insurgency has been crucial to defending national security, he said.
Goitia also lauded the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act that will free the country from the claws of terrorism and pave the way for improved lives of residents of conflict-afflicted communities.
During his final State of the Nation Address on Monday, Goitia said Duterte should present his final economic policies and programs for his remaining year.
"The President should speak about the ongoing Armed Forces of the Philippines’ modernization program and its implications for defending our sovereignty against internal and external threats. What military equipment we have acquired thus far, and what the next phase of the program would entail," he said.
"We also expect the President to discuss his policies going forward, but we would like him to focus on economic recovery, international relations, security, and social and political reforms," he added.
Meanwhile, Remy Rosadio, president of the League of Parents of the Philippines, said it is crucial that Duterte has responded positively to parents' call to end the illegal recruitment of minors by CTG front organizations.
"We are just lucky that we have President Rodrigo Duterte who is very supportive in our fight against deceptive recruitment and lies of CPP-NPA-NDF. Actually, we are risking our lives without security. We are doing this because we sympathize with some parents whose children were recruited by the legal front of CPP-NPA-NDF, and the children started as activists and later joined the armed struggle," Rosadio said in a separate interview.
Rosadio said they believe that Duterte will fulfill his promise to wipe out CTGs as "they have become a serious threat for the future of the youth".
Every child deserves a safe space free from the grip of communist ideologies, she said.
"Hearing his support for us makes us stronger and more determined to continue our fight against deception and lies of the legal front of CPP-NPA-NDF that are victimizing our children," she added.
Rosadio said there should be a continuity of the government's ultimate goal to end 52 long years of atrocities and violence committed by CTGs.
"We are sick and tired of the 52 years of the ruthless and unattainable war that the CPP-NPA-NDF is waging against the government and the ordinary people. Countless victims in the battlefields and innocent lives, particularly the youth, are being wasted," she said. (PNA)