MANILA – The government’s anti-insurgency task force on Sunday expressed gratitude to Vice President Leni Robredo for supporting its mandate, especially efforts to bring development to former conflict-ridden communities.
On Friday, Robredo, who previously called for the abolition of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), said she supports its mandate but the "careless" statements of its members put the body in a bad light.
“We thank her for standing on our shared ground of love for country and the complete defense and protection of our people from the communist scourge that, for 52 years now, has brought so much grief and destruction to our country and our people,” NTF-ELCAC spokesperson for Sectoral Concerns Lorraine Marie Badoy said in a press statement.
Badoy said she understood why Robredo earlier called for the abolition of the task force “because of the disinformation she was given about the work we endeavor to do.”
“We are glad she has awakened and seen through the disinformation and valiantly corrected her course and stands where she ought to stand: with our people,” she said.
She compared Robredo’s “awakening” to that of the rest of Filipinos who now see the “lies and deceptions” perpetuated by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).
“We are grateful that the Vice President listened to our people and to our local chiefs -- governors, mayors, barangay captains among them -- who have expressed their fullest support of the NTF ELCAC and their fullest outrage as well for calls of its abolition,” she added.
More than anyone, Badoy said local officials have felt the transformative change of Executive Order No. 70 on the lives of their constituents.
EO 70, inked by Duterte in December 2018, institutionalizes a whole-of-nation approach to attain inclusive and sustainable peace, and creates the NTF-ELCAC to oversee its implementation.
Make a stand
Meanwhile, Badoy urged all public servants, especially those running for public office, to make a clear stand against the CPP-NPA-NDF and its fronts just as Robredo did.
“We may differ in our politics -- and widely differ even. We are a vibrant democracy after all. But when it comes to the CPP-NPA-NDF that has stolen and murdered an untold number of our children and that has made our country a valley of tears for mothers and fathers, politics takes a back seat and we stand shoulder to shoulder to fight and end this communist pestilence that has brought so much grief and destruction to our people and our country,” she said.
She expressed confidence that “there is more that unites than divides us.”
“Let us adamantly stand on our shared ground of love for country. The President has shown us the way. And so has our Vice President. We should all follow suit,” she added.
During a security briefing with some officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday, Robredo said she is "all for the mandate and functions of ELCAC."
She also described the Barangay Development Fund (BDF) as "the best part of everything."
The NTF-ELCAC’s BDF provides insurgency-cleared villages PHP20 million for projects that the people in the barangay deem necessary to improve their quality of life.
The fund is part of the NTF-ELCAC and DILG’s Barangay Development Program (BDP), a package of socio-economic development programs that include farm-to-market roads, livelihood, irrigation, and health stations that aims to target 822 barangays in the country.
However, Robredo said "careless statements" of some members of the NTF-ELCAC have cast the entire task force in a bad light for red-tagging a range of individuals.
Robredo said she has been on the receiving end of "unfair accusations" but is one with the body in stopping insurgency by addressing its core problems.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
The NDF has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the Anti-Terrorism Council on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and separate part” of the CPP-NPA created in April 1973. (PNA)