Go reiterates need for whole-of-government approach in addressing insurgency and poverty; backs NTF-ELCAC

Go reiterates need for whole-of-government approach in addressing insurgency and poverty; backs NTF-ELCAC

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go reaffirmed his
support for the efforts of the National Task Force to End Local
Communist Armed Conflict to sustain its humanitarian and development
projects in conflict-affected areas. Go also backed calls to provide
sufficient funding for these endeavors.

In an interview after visiting the Dr. Jorge Royeca Hospital in
General Santos City on Monday, November 22, the lawmaker maintained
that the projects which aim to reduce poverty and promote sustainable
development are encouraging more communities to participate in the
counter-insurgency efforts of the government.

“Ako, (full) support ako na i-restore ‘yung budget ng NTF-ELCAC dahil
nakakaengganyo ito halimbawa ng barangay na gusto namang umunlad ang
lugar nila. Kadalasan kasi ‘yung mga conflict areas, ‘yung napapasok
ng mga komunista ay ‘yung mga barangay na hindi talaga maunlad. Halos
walang semento, walang proyekto,” said Go.

“Ngayon, naeengganyo silang tumulong na i-clear ‘yung mga barangay
nila para umunlad sila. Insentibo ito para tumulong sila sa gobyerno
at wala namang masama doon,” he added.

The anti-insurgency task force was initially allocated PhP28.12
billion, about PhP9 billion higher than what it received in 2021,
under the proposed National Expenditure Program. The proposed budget
was adopted by the House of Representatives before being slashed to a
mere PhP4 billion by the Senate during its deliberations.

To support the counter-insurgency effort, the NTF-ELCAC has
successfully implemented various collaborative projects. Under its
Poverty Reduction, Livelihood and Employment Program, it has provided
710 barangays with skills training with 1,576 interventions from
various agencies, such as the Technical Education and Skills
Development Authority, and 194 barangays with livelihood training with
268 interventions.

Its Infrastructure Development Program has also assisted in the
construction of a total of 25,245 bridges and 99,070 kilometers road
from 2018 to 2020.

Moreover, its Local Government Empowerment Program has gotten a total
of 1,715 local government units to denounce the communist terrorist
groups (CTG), 84% or 1,436 of which have approved a resolution
declaring CTGs as personas non grata in their respective localities,
as of July 2021.

Recalling his own experiences in Davao city, the senator underscored
the need for such government programs, services and support to address
the root causes of conflict and give former rebels an opportunity to
be reintegrated into society.

He likewise reaffirmed his commitment to supporting programs and
projects that would nurture a climate conducive to the implementation
of reconciliation and reintegration activities.

“Personally, parati po kaming umaakyat ni Pangulong (Rodrigo) Duterte
noon sa bundok, nakikipag-usap dahil kinukuha namin ‘yung mga bihag na
mga sundalo at pulis. Nakaka-usap namin sila. Ako, ayaw kong
nagpapatayan ang Pilipino ng kapwa sa Pilipino o sundalo against sa
rebelde. Ayaw ko po,” said Go.

“Kung maaari mag-usap, pag-usapan, ‘wag magpatayan. Sino ba namang
Pilipino ang gustong makipagpatayan sa kapwa Pilipino? Kapag may
namamatay na sundalo kawawa ‘yung pamilya. Kapag may namamatay naman
na rebelde kawawa din ‘yung pamilya. Ako mismo saksi dito. Kapag
nakikita mo ang mga burol, talagang dumudugo ang iyong puso,” he
ended.

In 2018, President Duterte signed Executive Order No. 70 which
provided for the creation of the NTF-ELCAC. The order also
institutionalized a whole-of-nation approach to attaining inclusive
and sustainable peace and directed the adoption of a National Peace
Framework which provides for the harmonized and synchronized delivery
of services in conflict-affected and vulnerable areas. (ai/mtvn)

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