By Tracy Cabrera
MANILA (13 December 2021) — On receiving reports about the disbandment of several private armed groups (PAGs) by the National Task Force for the Disbandment of Private Armed Groups (NTF-DPAGs) in Mindanao, senatorial aspirant Guillermo Lorenzo Tolentino Eleazar once again stressed the value of peace and order as tools for the country’s steady march towards progress and development.
Reports coming from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) revealed that the NTF-DPAGs had successfully disbanded 14 PAGs operating in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and Region 12, exceeding its initial target of five PAGs for this year.
Eleazar lauded the task force for its success even as interior and local government secretary Eduardo Año, who also chairs NTF-DPAGs, enthused that is exceeding its target this year by more than 100 percent, the success of the Duterte administration’s peace-keeping efforts could be attributed to the whole-of-government, whole-of-nation approach that has been adopted in combating PAGs.
“By synergizing as one government, we were able to exceed our normalization target for 202. Trust that the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is fully on board in this whole-of-nation battle to dismantle PAGs not just in the south, but also in the rest of the archipelago,” Año said at the NTF-DPAGs’ year-end assessment meeting.
For his part, Eleazar, former chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and an advocate of peace in his senatorial bid under Partido Reporma led by senator Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson and Senate President Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III, commended the national government’s program on DPAGs which is being carried out through the security component of the normalization track under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed between the government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2014.
The retired police general expressed agreement with presidential peace adviser and NTF-DPAGs special counselor Carlit Galvez Jr. who underscored that what comes after the disbandment of armed groups is the most important part of the normalization process because “this is where the empowerment and transformation of the surrendered PAG members would begin.”
Galvez had highlighted the need for the group to intensify its operations, especially that tension related to the upcoming May 2022 elections is starting to brew in communities.
“What is crucial at this point is to sustain the gains we have achieved over the past year and disband the three remaining PAGs we have identified. We cannot allow these lawless groups to sow fear, mistrust, and violence among our people. The NTF-DPAGs must therefore be more vigilant and ensure that next year’s political exercise will be safe, peaceful, and orderly,” he pointed out. (ai/mtvn)