ILOILO CITY – The abolition of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) will deprive barangays cleared of the influence of the communist terrorist group (CTG) with development funds worth PHP20 million each.
This was pointed out by the Western Visayas Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF6-ELCAC) in a statement on Wednesday in reaction to the pronouncement of Vice President Leni Robredo that she will abolish the national task force if she becomes the next president.
“Para na rin sa inyong kaalaman, may Barangay Development Program din ang NTF-ELCAC (For your information, NTF-ELCAC also has Barangay Development Fund). Under this initiative, CTG-cleared barangays are provided PHP20 million for projects that the people in the barangay deem necessary to improve their quality of life,” said the statement through its spokesperson Assistant Prosecutor Flosemer Chris Gonzales.
To shed light on some misconceptions, RTF6-ELCAC is inviting the vice president to a dialogue.
“Anytime po Madam presidential candidate, mag dialogue po tayo anywhere dito sa Region 6 (Anytime Madame presidential candidate, let us hold a dialogue anywhere here in Region 6). We will present to you the accomplishments of RTF6-ELCAC. We do not appreciate sweeping, baseless generalization and misconceptions about the mandate of the NTF–ELCAC by no less than the second highest official of this country,” Gonzales said.
The NTF-ELCAC was created through Executive Order 70 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2018 institutionalizing the whole-of-nation approach to address the local communist armed conflict.
It is a convergence of various government agencies grouped into 12 clusters with their specific mandates.
Gonzales said that the government has been trying to address the root cause of the insurgency through a holistic approach.
Since its inception, basic services and infrastructure projects have reached the conflict-stricken barangays and indigenous communities, the spokesperson added.
Gonzales dubbed the pronouncement of the vice-president unfair and seemed to disregard what the task force has accomplished.
He added that the task force is one with the vice-president in trying to reach out to less privileged sectors and their “common enemy” is the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).
Gonzales urged Robredo not to vilify the word Tokhang, which is a combination of Bisayan words kaTOK (knock) and HANGyo (request).
“It was a program intended to encourage drug users and pushers to avail of the community based rehabilitation programs. Data indicate that thousands of drug users and even pushers have been reformed and were provided an opportunity to start anew due to the government’s community based rehabilitation programs (CBRP),” he added.
Robredo on Tuesday cited as reasons for the proposed abolition the duplication of mandates with the creation of the task force as she also feared that it will serve as a vehicle to launch Tokhang Version 2.
She also said the problem of insurgency could not be addressed using a “purely militaristic approach” but by looking into the root of the problem. (PNA)