President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration will “win the game” against the decades-long communism in the country. Not an easy task, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar said, but it will happen.
Andanar, who graced the fourth quarter meeting of the Northern Mindanao Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) in Misamis Oriental on Friday, said the government has made significant strides since the signing of Executive Order 70 that institutionalizes the whole-of-nation approach to attain “inclusive and sustainable peace” nationwide.
Signed by the President on 4 December 2018, EO 70 created the National Task Force (NTF) ELCAC and directed local peace bodies to hold negotiations with communist rebels in their areas.
“We have come a long way since the issuance of EO 70 in December of last year. We continue to work together on how best this can operationalize,” said Andanar, who also leads the NTF-ELCAC’s communications team. “Together as one, through our convergent action and in partnership with the communities, I believe that we can win this game.”
The NTF-ELCAC has so far organized 17 regional task forces led by the Cabinet Officers for Regional Development Security (CORDS), while the local chief executives have led the provincial, municipal or city and village task forces, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said in November.
Andanar lauded the RTF-ELCAC Northern Mindanao for helping the national government in its goal to end communism.
“It is with great pride to lead a very proactive and committed regional and local stakeholders in addressing the issues and challenges in attaining sustainable peace and inclusive development,” he said.
Maj. Gen. Franco Nemesio Gacal, Northern Mindanao RTF-ELCAC technical working group chair and 4th Infantry Division commanding officer, noted that the implementation of programs and projects would transform conflict-affected areas into “conflict resilient communities.”
Andanar hoped that stakeholders will participate in the government’s resolve to maintain peace and order all throughout the country.
“I enjoin all the regional and local partners that as we move forward, let us remain steadfast in pushing forward the peace and development priorities of Northern Mindanao,” he said.
The anti-insurgency group continues to pursue efforts to accomplish target goals for this year while gearing up the implementation of more programs and projects for peace and development in 2020.
Earlier this month, Duterte said he is willing to resume the stalled peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
Despite this, suspected members of the CPP’s armed component, the New People’s Army (NPA) allegedly detonated an improvised explosive device in Borongan City, Eastern Samar on Friday afternoon, killing a police officer and two civilians aged 69 and 50 years old.
The CPP-NPA is tagged as a terror group by the Philippines, the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. (PNA)