The ruling party PDP-Laban party’s uncompromising stand in support of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and its programs is an indication that more and more local government officials are joining the ever-growing “bandwagon” and mounting calls to end the 53-year-old terrorist menace, agency officials said Tuesday.
According to DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, NTF-ELCAC spokesperson on local government concerns, the party’s adopted resolution backing the retention and future increase in Barangay Development Program funds is a testament to the “unprecedented avalanche of support” for a novel government project as previously announced by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.
“With this resolution by the ruling party, it is clear from all angles that the Task Force ELCAC and the BDP enjoy the widest support from local executives. This has become a bandwagon that makes ending local communist armed conflict an election issue come the next polls. Surely, this will deal a big blow to the CTGs (communist terrorist groups) and their fronts’ relentless campaign to bedevil the NTF-ELCAC. With grassroots support, they will not succeed,” he said.
Malaya himself was present during the PDP-Laban National Council meeting in Cebu province last Monday, where Eastern Samar Governor Ben Evardone moved for the adoption of a resolution to back the P16.4 billion BDP fund that some critics previously wanted scrapped.
"I move to retain or even expand the NTF-ELCAC fund. This is very important for our fellowmen in the hinterlands, for them to feel that government service is there for them… Criticisms that this fund will be abused are baseless," Evardone told his party mates in the National Council.
The resolution in support of ELCAC was unanimously passed by the more than 100 National Council members that included Senators Bato de la Rosa, Senator Tol Tolentino, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, Secretaries Alfonso Cusi, Wendell Avisado, Sonny Dominguez, MMDA Chairman Benhur Abalos, ULAP Chairman Presbiterio Velasco and scores of congressmen, city mayors, and governors.
The PDP Laban National Council meeting was chaired by party Vice Chairman Alfonso Cusi upon the directive of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
For his part, Esperon, who is also NTF-ELCAC Vice Chairman, expressed elation over this “very positive development,” stressing that the BDP is now being felt and appreciated by the very people the program has intended to serve.
“We have seen the fact that 84 percent of all local government units (LGUs) in the country have declared the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front) as persona non grata, meaning they are no longer welcome in any of these places. Now, with the PDP-Laban resolution, our resolve to pursue the mandates of NTF-ELCAC in achieving peace and development through ending senseless violence committed by these communist terrorists has been emboldened. We expect more officials to join this bandwagon and to support our peace and development initiatives,” Esperon stressed.
Earlier, Esperon said there are 518 barangays, 366 cities and municipalities, and 20 provinces that have passed their respective resolutions in support of the “game-changing initiative.”
“These LGUs strongly oppose the defunding of the (BDP) under the NTF-ELCAC. The BDP is a game-changing initiative for the development of these barangays under threat from the CPP-NPA,” he pointed out.
Various private groups and individuals like Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy also warned that moving to defund NTF-ELCAC is actually doing communist-terrorists a favor. In a video message, Quiboloy, whose group claims to have around six million members, even hailed the anti-insurgency task force for its commitment to end the 53-year scourge of communist terrorism.
Last week, Malaya disclosed that a total of 1,436 LGUs have passed resolutions condemning the alleged atrocities of the CPP-NPA-NDF, while the remaining 279 LGUs are deliberating on the matter.
“The resolutions of LGUs are solid proof of the condemnation of the CTGs and the resolutions belie the false claims of the Communist terrorists that they are supported by the people,” Malaya said in a statement.
He said six regions have achieved 100% declaration of persona non grata against the CPP-NPA-NDF - Central Luzon, MIMAROPA, Central Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, SOCCSKSARGEN, and the Cordillera Administrative Region.
In Metro Manila, nine cities have already passed resolutions and declared the CPP-NPA-NDP as persona non grata - Caloocan, Las Piñas, Mandaluyong, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Pasig, Quezon, San Juan, and Valenzuela.