E. Visayas body joins call to reject NTF-ELCAC abolition

By Sarwell Meniano

February 14, 2024, 5:07 pm

<p>UN Special Rapporteur (UNSR) on Freedom of Expression Irene Khan <em>(PNA file photo) </em></p>

UN Special Rapporteur (UNSR) on Freedom of Expression Irene Khan (PNA file photo) 

TACLOBAN CITY – The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) should continue to exist as it has been instrumental in wiping out insurgency in Eastern Visayas, the Regional Peace and Order Council said Wednesday.

“It is not wise to abolish the NTF-ELCAC,” as recently recommended by United Nations Special Rapporteur (UNSR) on Freedom of Expression Irene Khan, RPOC chair and Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez said.

“Maybe we can modify it instead of abolishing the task force. We should involve more agencies and even the Office of the Ombudsman since they provide guiding principles for good governance,” Romualdez told reporters.

Good governance, he said, would not give the New People’s Army (NPA) and its allies reason to criticize the government.

The official credited the NTF-ELCAC for the significant weakening of the NPA in the region last year.

At least 1,065 active members and loyal supporters of the NPA in the region were killed, captured, arrested, or surrendered in 2023, according to the Philippine Army.

Among them were 14 NPA leaders in the region who were killed or surrendered to authorities last year.

Of the total neutralized regular NPA members last year, 28 were killed in combat operations, 13 were captured, and 164 surrendered to authorities.

Romualdez said task force ELCAC in villages has provided information to the military that is crucial in its operations. Authorities also helped convince rebels to surrender.

Other surrenderers included 228 members of the Militia ng Bayan (MB), 163 from the Batakang Organisasyon sa Partido (BOP), 270 members of an underground mass organization (UGMO), and 199 mass supporters.

The whole-of-nation approach, 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 the police, gets the credit for the weakening NPA in Eastern Visayas.

In support of the fight against the NPA, several local government units have formed their task force ELCAC, operationalizing Executive Order 70 issued in 2018. (PNA)