24,000 ex-NPA rebels proof of NTF-ELCAC’s success — Badoy

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Close to 24,000 communist rebels who surrendered to the government are overwhelming proof of the success of the “whole-of-nation approach” being implemented under President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order No. 70 that created the National Task Force to End Local Communists Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), paving the way for genuine and lasting peace.

This was the statement released by the NTF-ELCAC through Spokesperson for Sectoral Concerns and Presidential Communications Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy during its weekly virtual press conference, in response to the baseless remarks made by jailed and reelectionist Senator Leila de Lima about the alleged failure of the task force.

“She must have been talking about herself as she is in a desperate situation. She’s (in jail) for being corrupt. Very unfit for national office,” Badoy said, referring to de Lima who served as Justice Secretary during the Aquino administration and who has been detained in Camp Crame since 2017 for illegal drug trading.

In support of Badoy’s pronouncement, Navy Capt. Ferdinand Buscato, Executive Director of Task Force Balik Loob, reported that among the 23,641 former members of various communist terrorist groups (CTGs) who surrendered to government authorities, 2,052 are considered “violent extremists.”

Most of the former communist rebels who surrendered, Buscato said, are now enjoying the fruits of their return to the fold of the law, as they have been reintegrated into society with NTF-ELCAC’s assistance including livelihood for their families.

“We are also hoping that the next administration will continue these programs,” Buscato said.

On the other hand, Director Monico Batle, NTF-ELCAC Action Officer for Barangay Development Program (BDP), said the first batch of 822 barangays formerly exploited by the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed group of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), are living peacefully thanks to the various development projects already in place funded through the BDP. He said the second batch of 1,406 barangays cleared of the CTGs is also expected to receive PHP20 million worth of projects like the first batch despite the unilateral decision of the Senate to slash the BDP.

“The Department of Agriculture has agreed to shoulder P12 million intended for farm to market roads which is very important for this barangay even if it is only good for 1 kilometer” while other projects will be shouldered directly by the local government units, Batle said, as the Senate last year only gave P4 million instead of PHP20 million for each barangay.

“The third batch (of barangays) will also include those formerly called red areas even before the term of President Duterte began, covering the period from 2011 to 2015,” Batle said, adding that a total of 1,550 barangays for the third batch are already included in the BDP.

He added that whoever will lead the country as the next president is legally barred from interfering with these projects as they are already made into law and included in the General Appropriations Act.

“Kaya dapat matuto tayong bumoto at pumili lalo na ng mga senador,” Batle said as he encouraged his countrymen to help the NTF-ELCAC to continue the programs geared to end the more than five-decades old communists’ insurgency. — PR

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