MANILA – Multi-sectoral groups on Monday cited the benefits of the creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and hoped that the succeeding administration will have the same strong political will to fight terrorism.
The NTF-ELCAC made easier and more accessible the government's delivery of basic services in far-flung communities, particularly in areas infiltrated by communist terrorist groups (CTGs), the League of Parents of the Philippines (LPP) and Liga Independencia Pilipinas (LIPI) said in a statement.
The President signed Executive Order No. 70 in December 2018, creating the NTF-ELCAC that employs a whole-of-nation approach to end communism and institute peace-building initiatives.
Both groups said it is only under Duterte that the government has the courage to disclose the deceptions and violence by the legal front organizations of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Liberation (CPP-NPA-NDF).
The Duterte administration also successfully "broke the backbones" of other local terrorist groups within Mindanao areas such as the Abu Sayyaf Group in Basilan and the Islamic State-linked Maute Group in Lanao del Sur.
They added that the gains on good governance, especially the fight against communist rebels, acquired under Duterte's leadership must be sustained by the next administration.
"The solution to conflicts should not be limited to military approach but more on political and socio-economic services," the groups said.
They also appealed to the next administration to continue to "unmask those politicians and militant organizations" that have been identified with the CPP-NPA-NDF.
The groups, composed mostly of parents whose children were lured into the armed struggle by CTGs, marched around the University Belt in Manila and converged for a small program at the foot of the Don Chino Roces (Mendiola) Bridge, hours before President Rodrigo Duterte’s final State of the Nation Address (SONA).
As in previous protest rallies, the groups insisted on the disqualification of the Kabataan and Gabriela party-list organizations from the 2022 elections.
They have filed a petition to delist the party-list groups before the Commission on Elections.
In his SONA at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City, Duterte lauded military and police forces for dismantling more than 50 guerrilla fronts of the CPP-NPA-NDF nationwide.
He slammed the high-ranking officials of CTGs for taking advantage of the armed revolution.
"The communist party earns billions but passed on a little to their fighting men to die for an ideology that is so rotten and corrupt," the President said.
He also hit at the communist groups for leaving their comrades behind.
"They themselves are pocketing the money and their children are studying in Europe and in all places which I think none of you here can finance such journey. 'Yan ang masakit dito (That's the hurtful part here). They collect taxes to support (CPP founder Jose Ma.) Sison in the Netherlands and they do nothing [but to] badmouth government," he said.
Duterte reminded the nation how communist groups have been revolting for about 53 years, but "until today the poor people are dying".
He said more of their members, mostly belonging to the indigenous peoples' tribe, die during clashes with government troops.
"They waste lives, they enlist children, and they are proud of it, but they deny it," he said.
The CPP-NPA is also listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
The groups also thanked Duterte for his efforts to curb corruption, illegal drugs, as well as for pushing for more infrastructure projects. (With reports from Benjamin Pulta/PNA)