THE National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) had its 10 Billion budget restored under the final version of the 2023 General Appropriations Bill after both houses of Congress arrived at a compromise during their bi-cameral conference.
Certainly nothing wrong with that considering that the NTF-ELCAC is a whole of nation approach intended to finally end the communist insurgency in the country. What is unique about the NTF-ELCAC strategy is that the national government has finally understood and admitted that if no substantial development in the countryside is made then the communist insurgency would retain its ammunition and cause for convincing the masses that their way is the only way to run the country.
By bringing relevant programs and projects to identified insurgency influenced or controlled communities in the country the NTF-ELCAC seeks to inform and convince those under the spell of the communists insurgents that the democratic way of life embraced by the government and the republic is actually the better way of life for Filipinos. The involvement of the communities in particular in this whole of nation approach strategy of the NTF-ELCAC seems to be working as slowly, barangay by barangay, the communist insurgents are being eased out of their strongholds and deprived of their safe haven. The successes of the military against the armed insurgents notwithstanding, the strategy of further bringing closer the basic services dispensed by the government to the affected communities has severely eroded the credibility of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in the countryside.
But even if the NTF-ELCAC is considered a resounding success in the campaign against the communist insurgency there is still that matter of transparency and public accountability which is obligatory on the part of offices and agencies under the government. The NTC-ELCAC is not exempted from this accountability. And so Senator Nancy Binay is correct when she spoke of the need for the NTF-ELCAC to present proof that the funds allocated to it during the previous two years, from the time of its creation, have been actually used for programs and projects relevant to its campaign. This is simply the transparency required as with any government transaction, and especially when billions of pesos were utilized for the project.
A bit of backgrounder regarding the NTF-ELCAC would show that on December 18, 2018 Executive Order 70 was issued by then President Rodrigo Duterte to “synchronize the government’s instrumentalities of power with the capabilities of the private sector stakeholders to end 50 years of deceit, lies and atrocities committed by communist terrorists against the Filipino people. The NTF-ELCAC is the whole-of-nation approach in defeating the local communist terrorist group and obtaining sustainable and inclusive peace throughout the Philippines”. Through its Barangay Development Program (BDP) the NTF-ELCAC divided and shared its more than 16.4 billion allocated funding to the sustainable rehabilitation and development of 822 barangays which were formerly established as guerilla fronts of the CPP-NPA-NDF. Each barangay received 20 million pesos for their projects which included farm to market roads, school buildings, water and sanitation systems, health stations, livelihood projects, rural electrification, reconstruction and housing. Now you can find all of this information on the NTF-ELCAC website.
However, following the observation of Senator Binay for a report on its accomplishment perhaps the NTF-ELCAC through its officers can provide updates on the implementation of their programs and projects through news outlets and the social media to fully inform the public on how the whole of nation approach project is coming along. It does not need to be full disclosure since there are confidential matters that need to be kept under wraps for the moment, but what is needed are details on what has been accomplished so far and letting the people know about it. This is actually the best refutation for the lies and deceit circulated by the communist terrorists groups in the countryside.
So before the year ends and before the approval of the 2023 national budget perhaps the NTF-ELCAC can come up with an accomplishment report replete with details on how the government is winning the war against the communist insurgency.