TACLOBAN CITY – The provincial task force to end local communist armed conflict (ELCAC) has been raising the capability of village officials in Leyte for them to help completely rid communities from the influence of the New People’s Army (NPA).
The communist terrorist group’s effort to regain their former strongholds in the province prompted the task force to step up the information drive among village officials who are members of the barangay (village) task force ELCAC.
“The barangay ELCAC is proven effective with the community officials are now addressing issues being exploited by the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA-National Democratic Front. They are now equipped with the right information regarding deception being employed by the communist terrorist group,” said Capt. Kaharudin Cadil, Philippine Army 802nd Infantry Brigade spokesperson, in a phone interview Thursday.
Through the local task force, concerns of communities are now properly addressed since the task force is chaired by village chief, the most trusted person in a community, Cadil said.
With village officials taking an active role, Cadil said it is now easier to convince NPA fighters and supporters in villages to abandon the communist ideology.
On July 23, seven young NPA recruits in Mahaplag, Leyte surrendered to members of barangay task force ELCAC after doing errands for the rebels for one year.
The official said all the 1,393 villages in Leyte have formed task force ELCAC through resolutions issued by their respective local peace and order committee and local development council.
The village task force is primarily tasked to take an active role in the implementation of retooled community support program (RCSP), ensure active participation of villagers in RCSP, ensure the delivery of basic services, provide intelligence information, and guarantee the sustainability of RCSP.
RCSP is a strategy that deploys teams to identify issues and concerns in remote communities threatened by the NPA. These issues will be raised to the concerned government agencies and local government units to be addressed accordingly.
The weakening of NPA in Leyte is a result of a whole-of-nation approach by linking arms between basic service providers from the central government, community participation groups from the local governments, and the security sector from the military and police.
In support of the fight against NPA, several local government units have formed their task force ELCAC operationalizing Executive Order 70 issued by President Rodrigo Duterte on Dec. 4, 2018.
The directive also institutionalizes a “whole-of-nation approach” in attaining an inclusive and sustainable peace.
The Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA, which has been waging a five-decade armed struggle against the government is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)