Between 2019 and mid-2021, at least 213 villages in Eastern Visayas were purged of New People’s Army (NPA) influence, spanning the first two years of the “whole-of-nation” approach to eradicating the communist terrorist group.
There are 94 villages in Samar province, 45 in Eastern Samar, 41 in Leyte, 29 in Northern Samar, and four in Southern Leyte, out of a total of 213 villages.
The Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) is still clearing 126 villages in Northern Samar and 29 villages in Eastern Samar.
“The Philippine Army, partner national government agencies, and local government units hope to fully rid these villages in Northern and Eastern Samar from the NPA influence by September this year,” said Capt. Ferdinand Tutanes, RTF-ELCAC desk officer of the Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Division.
Between the fourth quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022, the retooled community support program (RCSP) will be implemented in 97 communities in Northern Samar.
RCSP is a strategy that sends out teams to identify difficulties and concerns in remote areas that are threatened by the NPA.
These issues will be brought to the attention of the appropriate government agencies and local government units.
The teams’ mission is to help find answers to the problems outlined by bringing together the activities of various government institutions, which are overseen by the local task force, to terminate the local communist armed war.
“What is unique about Eastern Visayas is our RCSP implementation. While our troops are engaged in combat operations, our partner agencies had dialogues with villagers to identify their needs and deliver basic services to them. It only takes three months for us to clear a village affected by insurgency through this whole-of-nation approach,” Tutanes added.
Maj. Gen. Pio Diñoso III, commander of the Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Division, had stated that the struggle against the NPA will be more bloody.
According to the official, the remaining members of the NPA are no longer organized, but they still exist to continue extortion and disseminate communist ideology.
“We are almost done with our campaign. We should expect this to be more violent since NPA members are already fighting for survival. They want to project that they are still strong,” said Diñoso.
The weakening of NPA in Eastern Visayas is the outcome of a whole-of-nation approach that involves linking arms between the central government’s basic service providers, local governments’ community involvement organizations, and the security sector’s military and police.
Several local government entities have organized the ELCAC task group in support of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order 70, which was issued on December 4, 2018.
The order also establishes a “whole-of-nation approach” to achieving a just and lasting peace.
The United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines have all designated the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA as a terrorist group for its five-decade violent fight against the government.