MANILA – Following the death of 83-year-old Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) has urged the public to continue pursuing the path to lasting peace.
NTF-ELCAC Secretariat Executive Director Emmanuel Salamat said the NTF-ELCAC remains focused on its objectives and direction to pursue the whole-of-nation approach in defeating the local communist terrorist groups (CTGs) and obtaining sustainable and inclusive peace throughout the country.
“Enough for so much blood spilled, lives lost, the awful grief sown by violent terrorist groups such as the CPP/NPA/NDF (New People’s Army/National Democratic Front)… Let us discourage our deceived brothers and sisters from clinging to their hopes on a false ideology that political change and national well-being can only be achieved by way of the barrel of a gun,” Salamat said in a news release on Saturday.
Salamat also urged peace advocates and stakeholders to make use of “huge opportunities to make a difference by giving our passion and commitment for the people we are mandated to serve.”
“A new chapter for our country and people awaits — a new hope for peace and progress, as our collective and whole-of-nation commitment unites us in achieving inclusive peace and development for our fellow Filipinos, particularly in the conflict-affected and vulnerable communities — for love of God and country,” he said.
The NTF-ELCAC Secretariat expressed pride over recent accomplishments of the government in the campaign against the CTGs.
“This month pa lang, marami na tayong (alone, we have a lot of) accomplishments in our efforts to end the CTGs,” Salamat said.
He commended Eastern Mindanao Command for the recent dismantling of six CTG units in Eastern Mindanao.
“Earlier this month, Palawan was declared insurgency-free, a major victory for the WesCom (Western Command) and Palawan local government. It is now time to double our efforts in facilitating development projects in these areas,” he said.
Because of recent events and successful military operations in different regions, the CTGs are expected to significantly weaken due to a crisis in leadership, he added.
The NTF-ELCAC remains committed to facilitating delivery of services and development programs in areas previously inaccessible due to intimidation and violence perpetrated by the CTGs, and end the local communist armed conflict once and for all.
The NTF-ELCAC is composed of the following clusters in its whole-of-nation approach in attaining true and lasting peace for the country: Basic Services; Poverty Reduction, Livelihood and Employment; Local Government Empowerment; Infrastructure and Resource Management; Localized Peace Engagement; ; Legal Cooperation; Peace, Law Enforcement, and Development Support; Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration and Amnesty Program; International Engagement Cluster; Sectoral Unification, Capacity Building and Empowerment; Strategic Communications; and Situational Awareness and Knowledge Management.
The CPP earlier said the Netherlands-based Sison died around 8:40 p.m. Friday after two weeks of confinement at a hospital.
Sison's death came as the CPP would mark its 54th founding anniversary on Dec. 26. He founded the organization in 1968.
Sison was arrested during the time of President Ferdinand E. Marcos -- the father of the incumbent president -- in 1976, along with his wife. They were released from detention in 1986 after then President Corazon Aquino came to power.
In 1987, Sison went on a self-exile in the Netherlands after peace talks with the government stalled. Peace talks were on and off since then until President Rodrigo Duterte terminated the negotiations in November 2017. (PNA)