• GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The Armed Forces of the Philippines Visayas Command attributed much of what they have accomplished in the campaign against the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in Visayas, to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
In a statement, VISCOM chief Lt. Gen. Benedict Arevalo said “the Task Force ELCAC Task Force does wonders in our efforts to end the local communist armed conflict in the Visayas region.”
“Much of what we have accomplished is attributed to the Task Force through its peace dialogue mechanism, community development initiatives, and local government empowerment endeavors,” Arevalo stressed.
He made the statement following the recent conduct of the VISCOM Campaign Briefing to all its subordinate units in Visayas, which was held at Camp Lapu Lapu in Cebu City.
The engagement aims to apprise all commanders of AFP units in the Visayas region on the adjustments of VISCOM’s campaign against the CPP-NPA, as well as its current thrust and programs, which will serve as the basis and reference of these units in the conduct of internal security operations.
VISCOM records indicated that a total of 218 former rebels have returned to the folds of law, as a result of the localized peace dialogue mechanism of NTF-ELCAC. At the same time, 196 firearms were also surrendered by former rebels.
It also reported the completion of 562 community development projects in former NPA infested communities, including those in Negros Island.
Arevalo said the completion of these projects led to the permanent closure and complete resolution of the issues being exploited by the CPP-NPA to recruit and deceive the people to go against the government, as well as the collapse of NPA political structures.
He also reported that all NPA-infested communities in the Visayas region have already been cleared and the community engagement efforts of the AFP are now geared towards preventing the resurgence of the CPP-NPA in the region.
A total of 9,215 local government units (LGUs) in the Visayas region, from the provincial down to the barangays, have already denounced the CPP-NPA and declared the terrorist group ‘persona non grata’, VISCOM reports further said.
“Our people did not turn a blind eye to our efforts and sacrifices. As a matter of fact, they recognized and openly expressed their satisfaction to our efforts with the NTF-ELCAC. This is the first time a satisfaction survey was conducted for the AFP, where we achieved the highest satisfaction rating in the Visayas. It is usually in Mindanao. This is a clear manifestation of the gratitude and appreciation of our people.” Arevalo said.
“May the voice of our people be a driving force for us to never waver in our efforts to pursue the remnants of the CPP-NPA. With the continued support and intervention of NTF-ELCAC, let us do more and accomplish more for the attainment of lasting peace and stability in the Visayas region and for our people whom we have sworn to serve and protect”, he further said.*