BALER, Aurora – Most residents in this province are not in favor of any plan to abolish the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), saying it helps in addressing the insurgency problem and sustaining peace in Aurora.
They said the statement of Vice President Leni Robredo expressing her plan to abolish the NTF-ELCAC is irrational, considering that the task force adheres to a holistic and inclusive process that responds to the basic needs of the communities.
Provincial Prosecutor Jobert Reyes said he strongly supports the mission of the NTF-ELCAC to rid the country of the menace brought about by the communist terrorist group.
“To extirpate the more than half a century thievery, mass murder, terrorism and economic sabotage being done by the communist terrorist group equates to a no ordinary task,” he said in a text message to the Philippine News Agency.
Reyes said while the idea of the Vice President to create a conducive environment for peace talks if she gets elected as president is very much welcome, the notion to abolish NTF-ELCAC by reason of fear that it would be used as a means to abuse or harass people should be weighed with caution.
“We should not be oblivious about the unprecedented and remarkable accomplishments achieved by the task force such as but not limited to the freezing of the National Democratic Front funds, the PHP16.44-billion Barangay Development Program, which was directly given to the local government units (LGUs) by the Department of Budget and Management and other ongoing projects to finally free conflict-vulnerable barangays from the clutches of the communist terrorist group,” he added.
Francisco R. de Asis, a pastor and principal of the New Baler Institute, agreed that abolition of the NTF-ELCAC is unreasonable, noting the great harm the terrorist group has brought on the lives and economy of the people in the hinterlands who are opposed to its criminal agenda and extortion activities.
“In times of election, Leni Robledo is merely grandstanding for her political career, feeling her easy defeat in the coming national election,” de Asis said.
San Luis Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office chief Gabriel C. Llave also cited the importance of NTF-ELCAC, noting that the task force greatly helps their town in addressing the root cause of the insurgency.
Tonie Rose Porbido, a graduating Bachelor of Science in Office Administration student of Mount Carmel College, said Robredo might be misguided on the information that the NTF-ELCAC would be used to launch a campaign similar to the “Oplan Tokhang” anti-drug drive.
“Thousands of drug users and even pushers have been reformed and were provided an opportunity to start anew their lives due to the government’s program. Isa pa, ayaw na po namin ng mga terroristic activity sa aming komunidad (Also, we do not want terroristic activities in our community),” Porbido, who is also the president of the school’s Future Office Professional Organization (FOPO), said.
Volunteers for Peace and Hope Organization president Nymfa S. Macarioa, a resident of Dinalungan town, also said she was not in favor of the proposal to abolish the NTF- ELCAC.
“Paano ang mga kapatid nating gustong magbagong buhay, magpanimulang mabuhay ng tahimik at maayos kung aalisin ang mga programa para sa kanila. Wag nating hayaang manatili sila sa madilim na mundo ng kapatirang sumisira sa buhay ng mga tao lalo ng mga kabataan (How about our brothers who want to reform their lives, start a new life peacefully and orderly if the programs for them will be abolished? Let us not allow them to stay in the dark world of the organization which destroys the lives of the people, especially the youth,” Macarioa said. (PNA)