By: Saul Pa-a
CAMP GEN. VICENTE LIM, Calamba City — Around 20 former members of the New People’s Army (NPA) were officially welcomed during turnover rites Friday and placed under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP), the government’s “best weapon” to address insurgency in the country.
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo M. Año led the rites after presiding the closed-door conference of the multi-agency Regional Task Force To End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) in the Calabarzon Region, at the multi-purpose hall in this camp.
The Calabarzon RTF-ELCAC is the first of its kind to be organized in the country by the local chief executives, line agency regional directors, military and police top brass aimed at ensuring an effective and efficient implementation of Executive Order 70 signed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
The President’s directive institutionalizes the “Whole-of-Nation Approach” in attaining inclusive and sustainable peace through the creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, prompting the Calabarzon multi-agency to form it’s regional and localize adoption of the anti-insurgency National Peace Framework.
With the turnover of the 20 former rebels, Año has underscored E-CLIP as the “best weapon” to address insurgency while intensifying interventions and campaign plans and provide a more comprehensive orchestration of related peace efforts and initiatives through a convergence of national agencies and LGUs, military, police and various sectors of the civil society organizations.
“This a convergence effort of everyone as we are doing this with the ‘Whole of the Government Approach. We will, however, make sure that the Local Government Units will take the lead to suppress the problems on the insurgency in the country,” the DILG Secretary stressed.
Año spearheaded the symbolic distribution of the E-CLIP assistance to the 20 former rebels, 17 of whom are members of the Militia ng Bayan, the NPA’s armed wing, who received PHP15,000 each as immediate assistance while the three other NPAs each received the PHP immediate assistance and another PHP50,000 as livelihood assistance.
The 20 former rebels were then affiliated with Ganap na Kasapi ng Partido (GK), Milisyang Bayan (MB), Kontak, Baseng Masa and Organisadong Masa under Sub-Region Military Area (SRMA-4A) operating in the provinces of Laguna, Rizal, and Quezon.
With the anti-insurgency regional task force, Calabarzon has been cascading the Task Force roles to the provincial levels in Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon to address issues and concerns especially in Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDAs) through the creation of clusters patterned after the National Task Force to concentrate on specific issues.
Año lauded the Calabarzon RTF-ELCAC and ordered its replication by other regions to create sectoral unifications were conflicts were identified.
“We will form the 12 clusters under the Regional Task Force and conduct a series of meetings and workshops aligning in the composition of the National Task Force,” he directed.
During the two-hour conference, members of the 2nd Infantry Division (2ID), AFP and the 202nd Brigade presented updates on the threat situation, anti-insurgency campaign overview, RTF-ELCAC 4A activities and updates on the convergence tabletop exercise while the DILG representative underscored the mandate of the Regional Peace and Order Council.
Task Force members also raised their concerns and assessed the need for designating a Focal Person for each government member agency; tackled the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for Conditional Transitional Grants as well as the release of funds for the Former Rebels’ (FR) financial assistance.
RTF-ELCAC is composed of 21 government agency members in the Calabarzon, headed by the Presidential Adviser for Southern Luzon Sec. Jose Maria Nicomedes F. Hernandez, who also acts as chairperson with DILG Calabarzon Regional Director Manuel Q. Gotis who serves as head of the Secretariat.
Meanwhile, the operating teams from the Regional Intelligence Division, Police Regional Office CALABARZON were awarded the ‘Medalya ng Kadakilaan (PNP Heroism Medal) in recognition for their exemplary conduct in the negotiations that led to the surrender of the rebels and the turnover of assorted firearms, ammunition, and explosives from October 2018 to January 2019.
NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)