MANILA – The whole-of-nation approach pushed under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte has been "very effective" in dismantling various guerilla fronts of the communist terrorist groups (CTGs) in the country.
Presidential Adviser for Peace, Reconciliation and Unity, Secretary Carlito G. Galvez Jr., earlier said addressing the communist insurgency in Central Luzon has become more challenging amid the health crisis, but the Duterte administration’s whole-of-nation strategy made the responses bearable.
Galvez, who is also the Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security (CORDS) for Central Luzon, said the strategic approach of different government agencies working together with the local government units (LGUs) and the security forces, to putting an end to the decades-long communist insurgency has been very crucial, particularly in restoring developments in various conflict-afflicted areas.
He was referring to the creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and the 17 Joint Regional Task Forces (JRTFs) under the Executive Order 70, signed by Duterte in December 2018, institutionalizing a whole-of-nation approach in obtaining exclusive and sustainable peace, and giving the government an effective tool against communist terrorists.
“I know that our work in RTF 3 has not been a walk in the park. Since the health crisis struck in 2020, the task force has been facing various challenges both at the peace and security and health front, but time and again, the RTF 3 has shown that it is made of sterner stuff. You have not only faced these difficulties head-on, but you have also managed to carry out our crucial mandate as the task force continues to strengthen as an organization,” Galvez said in a previous virtual meeting with the key officials of the RTF-Central Luzon.
During the meeting, the Peace and Security Sub-Cluster of the RTF-Central Luzon reported a significant reduction in the number of guerilla fronts in the region—from five in 2018 to only two in 2021.
The RTF-Central Luzon also dismantled the KLG Sierra Madre of the New People's Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
It has also neutralized the KLG Caraballo and the Larangang Guerilla sa Patag 1 in 2019, clearing at least 36 areas infiltrated by the CTGs in 2021.
These joint efforts led to the voluntary surrendering of about 207 NPA rebels with 141 NPA members operating in the barrios and 2,567 members of the underground mass movement.
The local peace engagement (LPE) initiatives of the RTF-Central Luzon have also pushed all the seven provinces of the region including Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac and Zambales, to declare the CPP-NPA persona non grata.
Following the success of the dismantling of communist guerilla fronts, the government carried out a series of livelihood interventions in the region such as the distribution of food packs and relief goods; conduct of peace-building activities; implementation of agricultural and fishing projects, as well as the provision of business start-up assistance for the residents and the former rebels.
"We have been making major headway in this effort through the strong partnership between local government units, the security sector, and members of the community. We need to sustain this," Galvez said.
Galvez also noted the need to further address communist recruitment through mass organizations.
He said the youth sector and the marginalized individuals, as well as indigenous peoples, remain the most vulnerable population to the CTG recruitment.
"We need to prevent them from bringing more recruits into their fold through convergent efforts of concerned clusters in exposing the CTG deceptions and expounding on the truth," Galvez said.
Galvez said there is also a need to sustain the socioeconomic gains of addressing communist insurgency in the country.
"As the peace and security conditions in our communities continue to improve, we also need to highlight the socioeconomic gains of our efforts which are expected to result in community resiliency," he added.
“As CORDS in [Central Luzon], I am very proud of what we have accomplished in the regional task force. We have seen and demonstrated that the Whole-of-Government Approach in addressing the decades-long communist insurgency works,” Galvez said.
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 National Democratic Front (NDF) has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the Anti-Terrorism Council on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA created in April 1973. (PNA)