MIDSAYAP, Cotabato North: North Cotabato Governor Nancy Catamco on Wednesday opposed calls for the abolition of the Government’s National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac).
Decree 70 aims to institutionalize the national approach and establish the NTF-Elcac to pave the way for collective participation and action aimed at harmonizing government development efforts and services to support, facilitate and pursue the development program. peace of the country by regularly providing the government with services to rural communities.
Such an approach is a convergence of various government agencies grouped into 12 clusters with their specific mandates.
Since the inception of the task force, approximately 4,075 members and supporters of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), have surrendered and withdrew their support from both groups.
Catamco said NTF-Elcac’s programs are more sustainable and are more than just financial aid to end the insurgency in the country.
She thanked the task force for the support North Cotabato has secured from the security sector to ensure the province is freed from the influence of communist rebels.
“I think NTF-Elcac has much more sustainable programs in the pursuit of peace,” said the governor.
“The assistance (ayuda) is temporary and is intended only to meet emergency needs,” added Catamco.
According to the governor, she opposes Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo’s plan to abolish the National Armed Conflict Task Force if she becomes the next President of the Philippines.
Catamco said there had been no reports of human rights violations or military abuse under NTF-Elcac programs.
“The (NTF-Elcac) programs paved the way for the surrender of many Communist rebels who realized there was no reason to fight the government,” she added.
The governor noted that former NPA rebels who have reunited with their relatives are now leading peaceful lives.
According to Catamco, former Red fighters from northern Cotabato have benefited from scholarship programs from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and are now running their livelihood projects.
Through these programs, she said, the NTF-Elcac has also opened the door for other rebel groups like the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters to surrender to the government.
Catamco cited the task force for helping the provincial government deliver government services to the masses.
“We continuously provide basic government services to residents of communities once influenced by communist rebels, and we are happy to serve them,” she said.
Catamco regularly runs the “Serbisyo Caravan” which travels through isolated communities and former barangays (villages) influenced by the NPA to provide basic government services to the provincial offices of the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Social Protection and Development, from the Philippine Ministry of Agriculture and Statistics. Office, among others.
“The caravan is visiting remote areas where many villagers say it was the first time they had felt the presence of the government in their communities,” the governor said, adding that dismantling the task force would be bad policy.
This year, NTF-Elcac has a budget of 19.1 billion pesos and a proposed budget of 24 billion pesos for 2022.