DAVAO CITY – Amid calls for the defunding of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), a military official called for unity on Monday for a “final push” to end the communist insurgency.
“It is then our prayer and hopes that we set aside politics and personal agenda for a while and work together as one in this final push to end the insurgency. This we ask in the name of all those in the frontlines enduring immeasurable sacrifices away from their homes and the thousands who were scarred and died fighting this communist insurgency,” Maj. Gen. Ernesto Torres Jr., commander of the 10th Infantry Division (10ID), said in a statement.
Torres also lauded Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, Jr. and Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy, the spokespersons of the government’s anti-insurgency task force, for providing Filipinos clarity on the insurgency problem while “unmasking” the duplicity of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).
“And they also sow fear among the members of the communist terrorist groups (CTGs), their ilks and their supporters. If only to end this five decades-long insurgency, we whole-heartedly express our support to the two crusaders,” Torres said.
He also expressed frustration with individuals who supported the operation of communist terrorist group (CTG) in various communities.
“It is just very frustrating to realize that many among those who claim to be intellectuals and leaders in our society are too naïve to realize how the communist movement operates and how they have influenced every sector of our society, here and abroad, over the past half-century, almost undisturbed,” Torres explained.
As one of the prime movers on the campaign against the CTGs, Torres said they have a good chance to catch up, reverse the tide to favor the government, sustain the gains, and finally defeat the communist rebel movement.
“For the first time, the CPP-NPA-NDF has been given a bitter pill that they struggle to swallow. The NTF ELCAC provides the mechanism and programs to finally put an end to the communist insurgency. And this must be understood and realized by all peace-loving Filipinos,” he said.
One of the programs of the NTF ELCAC is the Barangay Development Program (BDP), with the end goal of bringing development to former conflict-prone communities, which has identified 822 barangays nationwide that were former guerilla fronts of the CPP-NPA-NDF.
Of the PHP19-billion total budget of the NTF-ELCAC, PHP16.5 billion is allotted for the development of 822 barangays cleared of insurgency.
Each recipient barangay would receive PHP20 million for the following: farm-to-market road worth PHP12 million; classrooms (PHP3 million); water and sanitation systems (PHP2 million); health station (PHP1.5 million); and livelihood projects (PHP1.5 million).
The CPP-NPA, which has been waging a five-decade war against the government, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)