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March 31, 2024

The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) said the elimination of "mass bases" of the New People's Army (NPA) had led to the eventual demise of guerrilla fronts from active to weakened to dismantled status since the agency was created in 2018.

The Maoist-inspired NPA is the armed component of the ideologically violent and obsolete Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

“A very important characteristic of a cleared area ay ‘yung mass base support nila at saka ‘yung resource generation which are almost nil na. Meaning, ‘yung mga tao doon mismo ang nagbibigay na ng information sa mga security forces natin kung sila (NPA) ay nagre-recover or bumabalik pa sa community to conduct atrocities or to extort money,” NTF-ELCAC Executive Director and Undersecretary Ernesto Torres Jr. said during a recent online press conference.

Torres made the clarifications following doubts about the strength and armed capability of the NPA owing to recent encounters between state forces and the rebels in some parts of the country.

From 89 active guerilla fronts in 2018, Torres said there are only 11 weakened guerilla fronts left, which the security forces are confident to dismantle within this year: 5 in Luzon and 3 each in Visayas and Mindanao.

“Probably, we should inform the public first kung ano ‘yung characteristics ng isang area kung na-dismantle na ‘yung kanilang guerilla fronts. When we say that a particular area ay wala ng guerilla fronts, ‘yung kanilang politico-military structure has been dismantled already,” Torres explained.

He further explained: “‘Yung kanilang capability to launch violent activities has been degraded significantly pero hindi naman po zero, maaaring may naiiwan pa diyan na isang squad, meaning mga 7-katao na puwedeng maghasik ng lagim.”

As earlier reported, Torres, citing a latest report from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), more than 400 NPA rebels were neutralized this year alone, leaving the terror group with only more or less 1,000 members.

Highly significant from various focused military and police operations were the demise or capture during armed encounters of some high-ranking CPP-NPA cadres.

The combination of focused military operations and infusion of the government’s Support to Barangay Development Program (SBDP) highlight the importance that community involvement play in upholding security and averting the reappearance of threats in areas that have been cleared from the influence of the CPP-NPA.

The Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP) collectively involves residents in identifying gaps that hamper development in their communities for SBDP to come in. These development mechanisms go along with the implementation of Local Peace Engagement (LPE) and the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP) that encourage NPA remnants to lay down their arms, surrender peacefully, and abandon the communist terrorist group (CTG).

Torres assured that by actively collaborating with security forces, the community becomes an integral part of the defense against insurgent activities, ensuring long-term stability and peace in communities cleared of CTG influence.

He also stressed how crucial it is to educate the general public about the characteristics of an area cleared from CTG guerrilla fronts.

But while these CTG armed groups and political structures may have been destroyed, there might still be surviving elements that are capable of carrying out atrocities.

“That is the current state pero ‘yun nga let this not be a reason, this rosy picture of peace and development, let this not encourage us to be more complacent but the more that we should exert our efforts really in aggressively providing the needed services and interventions sa mga vulnerable barangays,” Torres said.

“Complacency could undermine the progress made and jeopardize the security of the area,” he added.

Meanwhile, Torres emphasized the importance of sustaining the peace gains achieved over the years.

“As part of sustaining our peace gains, tatlo yung napakaimportante, we need to prevent the recruitment of our youth and student sector. Hindi dapat sila matarget, hindi sila ma-radicalize at eventually marecruit sa armed organization ng CPP-NPA-NDF (National Democratic Front),” he said.

The NDF is the negotiating arm of the CPP-NPA.

“Pangalawa, we need to protect the vulnerable sectors na hindi sila ma-e-exploit, and I’m referring sa labor sector, ‘yung urban poor communities, at yung IP (Indigenous People) sector. And pangatlo, we need to prevent their resource generation. Sa darating na election baka m

amaya may mga attempt na naman sila mang-extort thru permit to campaign and permit to win scheme,” Torres said.

He added that sustaining peace efforts requires a multifaceted approach that addresses the root causes of conflict and vulnerabilities.

“By prioritizing prevention, protection, and resource management strategies, communities can mitigate the risk of recruitment and exploitation by armed groups, thereby fostering long-term peace and stability,” he said.

“Sana po patuloy tayong magtulong-tulong as we implement our programs in resolving the root causes of insurgency. Since the inception of NTF ELCAC, we have been focusing more doon sa security aspect of our counterinsurgency efforts. But as the operational environment has improved already, we would be directing more of our efforts to harmonize the programs of all the government agencies, to include our private partners, in sustaining our peace and development gains. ”

“Together, we shall ensure that basic services would reach the farthest and the most isolated barangays in our country” he added.


Ref: Joel M. Sy Egco



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