Esperon supports Duterte in ending CPP-NPA
By Joanne Namnama Dilim / Philippine Information Agency
SAN FERNANDO CITY – National Security Adviser Hermogenes C. Esperon Jr. expressed support to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s aim to end the menace of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).
He made his remark when he guested on PIA Region 1’s post-SONA special episode of Kapihan sa Ilocos on Tuesday.
On his sixth and final State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 26, Duterte cited that the creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) made great strides in addressing the root causes of 53 years of insurgency.
“Self-imposed namin ‘yang (ELCAC) at ng Pangulong Duterte dahil siya ang chairperson ng NTF-ELCAC. He wants to finish the NPA by July 2022,” Esperon said.
He went on saying that the current strength of NPA of about 3,500 will further decrease because more armed communist rebels return to the fold of the law.
“Mabilis ang pagbaba niyan dahil marami ang nagsu-surrender. So, kung ito’y bababa ng 2,000 natiowide, magiging law and order na lang ito. Ibig sabihin, pulis at local government units (LGUs) na lang ang hahawak sa kanila,” he said.
In Duterte’s speech, he said that with the support of the LGUs, he is “confident that support for the communist movement will continue to erode in the next few months.”
Esperon, who serves as the vice-chairman of the NTF-ELCAC and Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security for Region 1, also mentioned of the Barangay Development Program (BDP) which is the ‘flagship program’ of the anti-communist task force.
“The President took note of the fact that because of NTF ELCAC, we are able to deliver now to several barangays what we call the BDP. The BDP is very important in as far as addressing the root causes that the insurgents exploit,” Esperon said.
While some lawmakers call to defund the BDP, Esperon announced that 822 barangays that were cleared from the influence of insurgency will each receive P20 million worth of development projects
“Through the NTF-ELCAC, we invested in farm-to-market roads, school buildings, water and sanitation systems, health stations, and livelihood projects,” Duterte said in his SONA.
Of the 822 villages, Esperon informed that Region 1 has two recipients namely Barangay Baluarte in the municipality of Salcedo and Barangay Nagbettedan in Santo Domingo town, both in Ilocos Sur province.
He reported that groundbreaking activities for the infrastructure projects and delivery of basic social services for the residents already happened on July 15 and 16 in the said areas.
“The President said this program will continue, so lined up of provision of development next year is about 2,380 barangays nationwide,” he said.
Lastly, Esperon guaranteed that the government’s efforts to build safe and conflict-resilient areas will continue through the implementation of whole-of-nation approach.
“Ganunpaman, umasa kayo na hindi lang NTF ELCAC ang pumupunta sa mga barangay because as we all know ay marami pang ibang programa,” said Esperon. (JCR/AMB/JPD, PIA La Union)