In the wake of UN rep call
TACLOBAN CITY– The mayor of this city, Alfred Romualdez, who also acts as the chairman of the Regional Peace and Order Council for Eastern Visayas, is not in favor of a call of a United Nations representative to abolish a counter-insurgency task force of the government.
Romualdez said that since the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), which has its local counterparts, the problem of insurgency in the country, including Eastern Visayas, has been considerably weakened.
Earlier, during her visit to the country, UN rapporteur for Freedom of Opinion and Expression Irene Khan called for the abolition of the ELCAC saying it is already ‘outdated’ as it was created during the previous administration of Rodrigo Duterte.
“That has to be studied but initially, let us look at the accomplishments of the ELCAC. Nakita naman natin na malaki naman ang nabawas sa insurgency,” he said Monday (Feb.12) in an interview during the 33rd foundation anniversary program of the Philippine National Police held at the Camp Ruperto Kangleon,Palo,Leyte where he was the guest of honor.
The city mayor, however, suggested that instead of seeking its abolition, NTF-ELCAC could be improved by further strengthening and involving other government institutions like the Office of Ombudsman.
“Maybe we can make some changes but not to totally abolish it. I don’t think that would be wise. I suggest, maybe even the Office of the Ombudsman should be involved because it is also a guidance principle for good governance,” Romualdez, a cousin of President Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos, Jr., said.
He said that the implementation of ELCAC in Eastern Visayas contributed a lot to why its insurgency problem has considerably weakened.
“I think, it is working in the region. Malaki ang nabawas ng insurgency ng region,” Romualdez said.
The ELCAC is considered to be a banner program of the government, initiated during the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, in its fight against insurgency and is being enforced by the current Marcos administration.
Army officials in the region earlier said that apart from the cooperation of the locals and the surrender of members of the New People’s Army, the implementation of ELCAC contributed to the reduction of the insurgency problem in Eastern Visayas.
The ELCAC, involving multiple government agencies created under Executive Order 70, offers projects in villages considered to be under the influence of the communist group, thereby, losing their mass base and supporters.
JOEY A. GABIETA