BACOLOD City – The government’s anti-insurgency campaign in Negros Occidental got a much-needed boost with the unanimous support of the Provincial Development Council (PDC) and the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC).
Both bodies passed a joint resolution for the creation of the Provincial Task Force on Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC) in a meeting presided by Gov. Eugenio Lacson on Aug. 27.
Brigadier General Benedict Arevalo, commander of the Philippine Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade, welcomed the approval of the resolution which he presented during the meeting.
“It is a confirmation that the solution to insurgency is not only in the hands of the military and police, but most importantly with the local government units and national government agencies,” Arevalo said.
He noted that local governments and state agencies are tasked to deliver services that will prevent people from being enticed to join or support the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).
“This is also an opportunity for the members of the task force to closely work together in addressing the root causes of insurgency in Negros,” he said.
The creation of the Negros Occidental Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict is in compliance with President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order (EO) 70, which institutionalizes the whole-of-nation approach in attaining inclusive and sustainable peace, creating a national task force to end local communist armed conflict, and directing the adoption of a national peace framework.
On August 22, Lacson, who led the conduct of the ELCAC Planning Workshop, said that peace is viable for Negros Occidental and the Philippines under the whole-of-nation approach.
Negros Occidental, considered a hotbed of insurgency, has the presence of CPP-NPA cadres mainly in the first, fifth and six districts; although the military has reported that their number has decreased in recent years.
Under EO 70, there is a shift from a traditional military-centric scheme to a civilian-led way in confronting the communist terrorist groups through a whole-of-nation approach, in which the military solution should be just one of the many components in addressing the communist insurgency.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (With a report from PNA/PN)