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Esperon inspires

By Mauro Gia Samonte / The Manila Times

It fattens the heart that Secretary Hermogenes Esperon Jr., national security adviser and vice chairman of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac), has come out expressing unflagging commitment to succeed in his mandate to carry out the objectives of the task force. Lesser souls would have buckled down to pressure from no less than 15 senators seemingly gone passionate in seeing the government anti-insurgency campaign crumble. The latest development is that the task force has come under fire from a good majority of the senators, who are smarting from having been called “stupid” by NTF-Elcac spokesman Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. for threatening to defund the task force if he is not removed from his post.

General Parlade has taken pains to explain the context in which he issued that word. He pointed out that his use of the word had a qualifier: “If the senators made good their threat to defund the task force.” How stupid indeed would it be if the senators made good their threat. Not only would that act squander the great gains already had by the task force, but worse, it would frustrate the final collapse of the communist terrorist insurgency envisaged by General Parlade to take place before the year ends. To use the general’s phraseology, for the longest time that insurgency has stunted the growth of the country. Now that the government has already seen the light of day in crushing the communists, here are the nation’s top senators ganging up on the body gone resolved to make that crushing succeed as programmed.

Of late, the task force vice chairman issued an update on the transpirations in the government’s anti-insurgency campaign.

“As of 11 May 2021, 73 percent of the Barangay Development Program (BDP) has been in place in barangay (villages) cleared of CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army) influence,” Secretary Esperon said in a statement released to the media. “This has the equivalent of P12 billion. All in all, there have been a total of 1730 BDP projects approved all over the archipelago.”

According to Esperon’s report, the leading regions where the CPP-NPA influence has been effectively neutralized, meaning rebel combatants decimated or surrendered, are the Bicol Region, Visayas and Mindanao.

According to latest data, there are 782 barangay that have been endorsed to avail of BDP projects and 600 of these have already been approved.

“We expect that those barangay that have not yet submitted the necessary documents for endorsement into the BDP will do so as soon as possible,” the task force vice chairman said.

“So you see that the funds being threatened to be removed by the senators are as food withdrawn from the poor’s mouths,” Esperon lamented. “Have a heart.”

Question now is: If the government is winning the fight against the communist terrorist rebellion through the Barangay Development Program, why are those 15 senators so keen about removing NTF-Elcac’s funds? It goes without saying that if they succeed in taking away those funds, the CPP-NPA gets to have a reprieve for what is getting to be now its evident imminent demise.

This is what should horrify us. For whom are those senators? For the government of which they are part or for the communist terrorists who for, to use General Parlade’s phraseology, the longest time has wrought havoc, economic woes and a life of misery for Filipinos?

In a splendid display of military honor, General Parlade has proclaimed himself not indispensable and expressed willingness “to go if asked to leave.” That seems cue enough for his senator enemies to apply greater pressure upon those with authority to give what the legislators ask: Parlade’s head.

Would the NTF-Elcac vice chairman give up?

To Secretary Esperon’s credit, he himself chose to uphold the virtues of an upright superior. Against the terror of the senators, he held his ground. There is no way to distract from the brilliant accomplishments of the general during his watch as NTF-Elcac spokesman. The legal fronts of the CPP-NPA-NDF (National Democratic Front) have been totally exposed, resulting in a vital disruption of the rebels’ otherwise unchecked recruitment of members as well as the flow of funds for their military operations.

For instance, through Parlade’s expose on the activities of Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), the group has been finally uncovered as a conduit of funds from the international supporters of the communist terrorist rebels. The Anti-Money Laundering Council has already ordered the freeze of the RMP assets and finances.

So, to the intransigent calls of senators to remove General Parlade as spokesman for the NTF-Elcac, Secretary Esperon issues his say: “Carry on, General Parlade.” Not only that, but he also designated six other NTF-Elcac spokesmen, so he gets enough assistance in carrying out his task and thereby make sure that he succeeds in his task after all, thus:


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