TACLOBAN CITY – Eastern Visayas (Region 8) is on track to wipe out insurgency by next year, given the gains of the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) since its creation two years ago, Housing Secretary and RTF 8-ELCAC chair Eduardo del Rosario, said Thursday.
In an RTF 8-ELCAC meeting attended by President Rodrigo Duterte, del Rosario reported the New People’s Army (NPA) has weakened significantly in the past two years through the institutionalization of the whole-of-nation approach under Executive Order (EO) 70.
Citing reports from the Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Division, he said the military has neutralized 71 rebels, who were either captured or killed.
Some 2,428 others have surrendered and eight child warriors have been rescued.
Government troops have also recovered 103 high-powered and 123 low-powered firearms from the communist terrorist groups (CTGs) in the region as they dismantled seven out of 11 active communist front organizations.
“The remaining Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) capability in Region 8 is continuously declining, hence, we declare today that our timeline to neutralize and diminish the influence and fighting capability of the communist terrorists is achievable and doable within the President’s term,” del Rosario said.
The persona non-grata declaration against the NPA by the local government has been a big factor in dismantling the NPA fronts, he added.
At least 3,395 or 77 percent of 4,390 villages in the region have declared CTG members as persona non-grata.
All mayors and governors of Leyte, Southern Leyte, Biliran, Samar, Eastern Samar, and Northern Samar have likewise formally rejected the NPA.
The formation of the RTF-ELCAC operationalizes EO 70 issued by Duterte on Dec. 4, 2018.
The directive also institutionalizes a “whole-of-nation approach” in attaining an inclusive and sustainable peace.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)