By Ileana Cortes
CEBU CITY, Cebu, July 26 — President Rodrigo Duterte said the administration has been making strides in addressing the root causes of the armed conflict against communists by empowering the “kababayans” or fellow countrymen through the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC).
During his sixth and final State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the Joint Session of the 18th Congress (Third Regular Session) on July 26, Duterte said he is proud of the accomplishments of the troops and other state forces in maintaining the peace and order of the country.
“Indeed, I am proud of the accomplishments of our troops in securing our nation against all threats to our democratic institution. But peace must be realized,” said Duterte.
He said peace and security is not only just a military concern.
“That is why we deviated from the traditional, purely military approach in dealing with matters of national security,” he added.
The President said that with the creation of NTF ELCAC, the government has been able to make strides in addressing the root causes of the armed conflict by empowering those who have been used by the communist terrorist groups for over five decades.
“We have worked towards a sustainable rehabilitation and development of communities where the communists used to operate,” Duterte said.
Through the NTF ELCAC, he said they have invested in farm-to-market roads, school buildings, water and sanitations, and livelihood.
Also, with the help of the local government units, the President is hopeful and confident that any support for communist terrorist groups like the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) will “erode in the next few months”.
Duterte also reminded everyone that lawlessness has no room in this country.
“Our victory in Marawi (City) is also a testament to how the Filipinos’ patriotism is far stronger than any extremist group. As I have said before, many times, there is no room for lawlessness in this country,” he added.
However, Duterte said the rehabilitation of Marawi City in Lanao del Sur is still incomplete.
Pro-ISIS extremists launched a takeover of Marawi on May 23, 2017 in a siege that took five months and forcibly displaced 98% of the total population of the city.
A government inter-agency task force was then organized to facilitate the rehabilitation, recovery, and reconstructions efforts in Marawi.
Duterte ordered the Task Force Bangon Marawi to “race against time and you have to finish the necessary work to rehabilitate the war-torn city and bring its families back home.”
Meanwhile, Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino, in a statement posted on their official Facebook page, said “over the last five years, we have seen a President who has shown us what Malasakit is towards the Filipino people. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s 2021 State of the Nation Address has renewed the hope of the Filipinos for a better and brighter Philippines.”
“Since his administration started, 229,289 hectares of land were distributed to our poor and deserving farmers for agriculture through the issuance of EO 75 s. 2019, identifying lands owned by the government devoted to or suitable for agriculture for distribution to qualified beneficiaries,” Dino said.
He added that more than 2,245 farmer beneficiaries in the Visayas were granted land ownership totaling to over 3,000 hectares, along with millions worth of support services projects.
These were made possible by the implementation of the President’s Executive Order No. 70 s. 2018 instituting a whole-of-nation approach on Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC) program.
“As the Cabinet Officer for Regional Peace and Development for Central Visayas, I have also witnessed firsthand our peace and development efforts through the Regional Task Force 7 on Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict by way of basic services, former rebel reintegration and amnesty programs, and sectoral unification efforts,” said Dino.
For Central Visayas alone, Dino said a total of 32,014 individuals were given a total of P113,244,300 million through the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Social Amelioration Program.
“Over 6 million worth of assistance were given to 128 former rebels through the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program. For 2022, we have endorsed 86 barangays in Region 7 for inclusion in the Barangay Development Program where each barangay will get a fund of 20 million each for their locally-identified programs, activities and projects.This administration really takes peace efforts seriously as its way of paving sustainable growth and development,” Dino said. Philippine Information Agency