MANILA—President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said the creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) has resolved the root causes of the communist armed conflict in the country.
“With the creation of the National Task Force to End [Local] Communist Armed Conflict or NTF-ELCAC, we have made great strides in addressing the root causes of this conflict by empowering our kababayans (countrymen) who have been used by the communists for so many decades," he said during his final State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Through the NTF-ELCAC, he said the government has pushed continuing efforts to build safe and conflict-resilient barangays.
He said the task force has provided infrastructure and other development projects in barangays ravaged by violent communist insurgencies such as investing in farm-to-market roads, school buildings, water and sanitation systems, health stations, and livelihood projects.
"We have worked towards the sustainable rehabilitation and development of communities where the communists used to operate," Duterte said.
In pursuit of various peace and developmental programs in communities infiltrated by the communist groups, Duterte said over 17,000 former rebels, comprising members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and Militia ng Bayan, have surrendered to the government.
"They have returned to the fold of the law and are happily reintegrating to society," he said.
Under the NTF-ELCAC, he said the government has pushed the enhanced comprehensive local integration program (E-CLIP) for the former communist rebels which helps them to get back to their normal lives and become productive residents of their respective communities.
Keeping nat'l security
Duterte also lauded the efforts of the government forces in maintaining national security.
"Indeed, I am proud of the accomplishments of our troops in securing our nation against all threats to our democratic institutions. But peace must be realized," he said.
He added that peace and security is “not only just a military concern."
"That is why we deviated from the traditional purely military approach in dealing with matters of national security," he said.
Meanwhile, Duterte is confident that the communist movement will be soon halted with the support of the local government units (LGUs).
"With the support of our local government units, I am confident that support for the communist movement will continue to erode in the next few months. And like the decades-old Moro rebellion in Mindanao, we will also bring an end to the armed struggle of the communists once and for all," he said.
Duterte credited the police and military forces for destroying more than 15 guerilla fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
The President also cited some of the communist's exploitative acts.
"I'd like to be frank with you. Everybody, as everybody in this country, are paying taxes to the communists. The Communist Party earns billions but pass on a little to their fighting men who die for an ideology that is so rotten and corrupt," he said.
Duterte slammed the CPP-NPA high-ranking officials for taking advantage of the communist revolution and profiting from the armed struggle.
"They themselves are pocketing the money and their children are studying in Europe and in other places, which I think none of you here can finance such journey. Iyan ang masakit dito (that's the hurtful part here). They collect taxes, support (CPP founding chair Jose Maria) Sison in the Netherlands, and they do nothing but bad-mouth government and mouth the war dogmas and everything" he said.
Duterte lamented that only the poor people are dying for pushing the communist ideologies.
"Hindi na sila napagod (they don't get tired). It's about 53 years in the making. And until today, the poor people are dying," said Duterte. "The cadres and most of them belonging to the indigenous tribes of our country are fighting a losing battle between the communist and the government. They waste lives, they enlist children and they are proud of it, but they deny it."
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)