The Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) III recently declared the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) as ‘persona non grata’ in Central Luzon.
This was among the several resolutions issued by the RTF-ELCAC III at the Kingsborough International Convention Center in the city San Fernando, Pampanga, which condemned the “unlawful and illegal activities” being carried out by the CPP-NPA in the area.
“We are gathered here with one common objective: to finally put an end to the communist insurgency in Region 3,” Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez Jr. said during the meeting of the RTF-ELCAC 3 here on July 13, 2019.
“And we are going to address it by the strong cooperation as mandated by the Executive Order (EO) 70,” said Galvez.
Secretary Galvez was recently designated by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte as the Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security (CORDS) for Region 3.
CORDS is a mechanism that aims to link regional and sub-regional levels of government to national agencies in order to harmonize peace, development and security efforts, and consequently, formulate solutions to resolve the nation’s decades-long insurgency problem.
“We have been declaring persona non grata to let this group know that what they have been doing is unacceptable to everyone in the region,” Galvez said.
RTF-ELCAC 3 members gave recommendations on how the body can address the communist insurgency using local solutions.
“A political problem can only be solved by a political solution. What we are doing here (RTF-ELCAC) is that political solution,” Zambales Governor Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. said.
The Philippine Army’s 7th Infantry Division commander Brig. Gen. Lenard Agustin echoed Ebdane’s suggestion, noting that the government is on the right track in resolving the communist rebellion with the implementation of Executive Order 70.
“We all believe that the marching order of the President, this EO 70, is the right strategy to end the local communist armed conflict situation,” Agustin said.
In December 2018, the President signed EO 70 institutionalizing the “whole-of-nation approach” wherein local government units and members of the community can initiate “localized peace engagements” with the communist insurgents.
The said EO also led to the creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) which will provide the structure and mechanisms for the implementation of the whole-of-nation approach, as well as the adoption of a National Peace Framework.
The RTF-ELCACs are under the oversight of the NTF-ELCAC and will be responsible for implementing the latter’s programs and policies at the regional level.
Four other resolutions were approved by the RTF-ELCAC III during the meeting:
- A Resolution to include scouting and ROTC in the school curriculum;
- A Resolution designating NICA Regional Director Rolando Asuncion as the deputy CORDS for Region 3;
- A Resolution expressing support to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte as the NTF-ELCAC chairperson and adopting the National Peace Framework that will advance the inclusive and sustainable peace and development agenda for Central Luzon; and
- A Resolution granting fund support to the AFP’s 7th Infantry (Kaugnay) Division relative to the implementation of its peace-building initiatives that support RTF-ELCAC 3’s aim of ending local communist armed conflict in Region 3.
The CORDS 3 meeting was attended by governors and mayors of the region, representatives from the Regional Peace and Order Council II, Regional Development Council III, Department of the Interior and Local Government, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, National Security Council, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.