Department of National Defense (DND) officer-in-charge Jose Faustino Jr. (Photo credits: Philippine News)
By Tracy Cabrera
CAMP AGUINALDO, QUEZON CITY — Department of National Defense (DND) officer-in-charge Jose Faustino Jr. said the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) has already received a directive from President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. to continue the agency’s peacekeeping and peacebuilding work as part of its mandate in promoting national security.
“Mayroon nang direktiba ang pangulo na ipagpatuloy natin itong NTF-ELCAC (National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict). So right now, itong kauna-unahang meeting . . . ay para malaman natin kung ano ang status niya ngayon dahil may bagong members tayo, at ipagpatuloy ang mga naumpisahan na at iyong mga napakalaking achievement na nagawa ng NTF-ELCAC ng nakaraang administrasyon,” Faustino pointed out.
The NTF-ELCAC was established during the term of Marcos Jr’s predecessor, former President Rodrigo Duterte, by virtue of Executive Order No. 70 which was issued in 2018.
“Napakalaki na nang naidulot na kabutihan (ng NTF-ELCAC) pagdating sa kapayapaan. Kung mapapansin natin, ang mga violent incidents na ginagawa ng mga CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front-New People’s Army) ay bumaba. All the parameters ay bumaba kasama ang kanilang strength, firearms at affected barangays, lalo na ang mga guerilla fronts. So, ito ay ipagpapatuloy natin. Kung meron mang pagbabago, ito ay para mas mapaganda o ma-enhance ang mga proseso ng NTF-ELCAC,” he added.
Based on data from the defense department, almost 30,000 members of the Communist Terror Group (CTG) have already surrendered and returned to the government’s fold as of May the current year.
“Those who were eligible to receive government benefits were provided with housing, livelihood, medical and education assistance. I believe that if we continue with this, we will succeed in ending the conflict,” the defense chief stressed.
Aside from the thousands of surrenderees, Faustino also cited that 47 of the known 81 guerilla fronts operating in the country have already been dismantled or neutralized. (ai/mtvn)