Duterte lauds NTF-ELCAC's 'best' dev’t projects

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (File photo)

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday praised the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) for undertaking initiatives to bring development to insurgency-cleared areas in the country.

Duterte gave the commendation, as he expressed dismay over the Senate Committee on Finance's recent decision to slash the proposed 2022 funding for NTF-ELCAC from PHP28.12 billion to just PHP4 billion.

During the NTF-ELCAC's joint meeting with the ELCAC's regional task force (RTF) in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro, Duterte hailed the anti-insurgency task force for its development projects in areas no longer infested with the Communist Party of the Philippines' (CPP) armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA).

"Itong ELCAC, pinakamahusay na sanang program to date na binigay natin sa kanila (ELCAC has the best program to date)," Duterte said. "Eh 'yung budget nilang PHP28 billion, ginawa na lang PHP4 billion ng mga senador. Yun sana is to give every barangay PHP20 million (It was supposed to get a PHP28-billion budget [in 2022] but the senators cut it to just PHP4 billion. The budget was supposed to be used to give every village PHP20 million)."

Duterte was referring to the NTF-ELCAC’s Barangay Development Program (BDP) which seeks to bring development to former conflict-prone communities.

The BDP is a package of socio-economic development programs that include farm-to-market roads, livelihood, irrigation, and health stations.

A total of 1,406 insurgency-cleared villages nationwide are expected to benefit from the BDP in 2022. They are set to receive PHP20 million each to fund their anti-insurgency projects.

Duterte said he is grateful to the NTF-ELCAC and RTF-ELCAC for their commitment to stop the insurgency problems in the country.

He also expressed hope that local chief executives and community leaders would continue helping his administration in its fight against communism.

"To our local chief executives and community leaders who play a crucial role not only in addressing insurgency but also fighting crime and the illegal drugs in your respective localities, your cooperation will likewise advance the government's goal of securing and safeguarding the nation," Duterte said.

Duterte made the call, as he chided the communists anew for their killing spree.

"So, diyan din ako galit ako sa mga komunista. Talagang galit ako hanggang ngayon (So, I am really mad at the communists. I am mad at them until now)," he said.

The CPP-NPA has been listed as a terror organization by the Philippines, the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

The CPP's political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF), has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the Anti-Terrorism Council on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and separate part” of the CPP-NPA created in April 1973.

The peace talks between the national government and NDF have been intermittent since 1986.

Duterte tried to hold a series of peace talks with the NDF, but decided to terminate the negotiations following the NPA’s relentless attacks against government troops and civilians.

He formally ended the peace negotiations with the NDF through Proclamation 360 inked on Nov. 23, 2017.

The termination of talks was followed by the Dec. 5, 2017 signing of Proclamation 273 which declared the CPP-NPA as a terror group. (PNA)

Source: Business Diary Philippines

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