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NTF-ELCAC is ‘coup de grâce’ to communist insurgency; invites CHR to be apprised of its accomplishments

February 13, 2024

Executive Director and Undersecretary Ernesto Torres Jr. on Tuesday said the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) is “laser-focused” on its mandate to end communist terrorism and expressed the Task Force’s desire to apprise the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) of its five-year accomplishments.

Torres said the Task Force is in fact a “coup de grace” to the more than 50-year existence of the CPP-NPA-NDF.

“Only a group and people supportive to the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s-Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) would call for the abolition of such a body,” Torres said.

He extended an invitation to the CHR to come and participate in the presentation of their evaluation process, transparency, and openness to scrutiny.

“Sana na-communicate ng CHR sa atin ‘yan before nag-issue ng press statement and I would have explained to them that we are doing periodic assessment and evaluation of what we are doing”, Torres said during a Facebook live interview with hosts of the “Laban Kasama ang Bayan” of SMNI.

Torres said they are most willing to provide all the information that the CHR would want to know regarding the Task Force’s implementation of its mandated tasks.

Just recently, Torres said the Task Force conducted a nationwide assessment and evaluation process of its mandated tasks with all its clusters and regional-provincial-city/municipal task forces.

Part of this process is an evolution occurring for the Task Force, for example, in the context of “Halfway Houses” to “Peace Centers”, which are facilities aimed at supporting former rebels through their deradicalization process, skills and livelihood training, and to prepare them for their eventual reintegration back to mainstream society. In addition, peace centers shall also serve as facilities in processing would-be beneficiaries of the Amnesty Program of the government.

This implies a shift towards a broader and more inclusive approach to promoting peace and development in all the affected but already cleared or liberated from the claws of communist insurgency.

“In all of the agencies, bureaus, Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCCs), mandated na po na meron silang Project Management Development Office-ELCAC just to make sure that they have effort that would contribute to resolving the root causes of insurgency,” he revealed.

Torres also explained that the purpose of involving these offices is to ensure that they actively participate in efforts to address and resolve the underlying issues that fuel insurgency.

“The purpose remains the same, iisa lang po—ending local communist armed conflict. That is the only purpose of the NTF-ELCAC”, Torres said, regarding the mandate of the agency.

“Once na ma-accomplish na po natin ‘yan, it’s up to the leadership on what would be the way ahead of the NTF-ELCAC. But for now, we are laser-focused in really ending local communist armed conflict,”’ he added.

Meanwhile, Torres questioned the motives and intentions of those advocating for the abolition of the NTF-ELCAC, suggesting that such a move would hinder the progress made in peace-building and development efforts.

“Ano ang tawag natin sa mga tao o organisasyon who are calling for the abolition of an agency na nakakapagbigay ng development projects sa more than 4,000 na dating nasa ilalim ng impluwensya ng CPP-NPA na mga barangays?,” Torres asked.

Once again, he underscores the task force’s successes in dismantling 78 active guerilla fronts over a relatively short period of time, reducing their strength to just a fraction of their previous number.

He said they are confident that the remaining 11 weakened NPA guerilla fronts will be dismantled this year and only then the Task Force will transition into a National Task Force for Unity, Peace, and Development (NTF-UPD).###


Ref: Joel M. Sy Egco


February 13, 2024


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