BORONGAN CITY– The Joint Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC), Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Council (PADAC), and Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC) unanimously approved on Wednesday, February 7, the motion of Eastern Samar Governor Ben Evardone to pass a resolution opposing the move to abolish the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

“We believe that the whole-of-government approach under EO 70 has been successful in neutralizing insurgency in Eastern Samar,” Evardone said.

This is in response to United Nations Special Rapporteur (UNSR) on Freedom of Expression Irene Khan’s call for the abolition of NTF-ELCAC, which she claimed is outdated and “does not take into account the ongoing prospects for peace negotiations.”

During the said meeting, Evardone also thanked and commended the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), particularly the troops of the 802nd Brigade and 78th Infantry Battalion, for the successful operations that led to the death of Alias Moki, a high-ranking official of the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) – New People’s Army (NPA).

“I’d like to congratulate the 802nd Brigade under the command of Brigadier General Noel A. Vestuir, the78th Infantry Battalion under the command of Lt. Col. Allan. T. Tria, and the 8th Infantry Division under Major General Camilo Z. Ligayo for neutralizing a major personality in the insurgency movement,” the Governor said.

Evardone also commended the Philippine National Police, particularly the Eastern Samar Provincial Police Office, local government units (LGUs), and national government agencies, for the success of the anti-insurgency campaign in Eastern Samar.

Meanwhile, Deputy Brigade Commander of the 802nd Brigade, Col. Rico Amaro, disclosed that there are now only 13 identified active CTG-NPA members in Eastern Samar. Based on the 2023 data, these 13 individuals are included in the 38 remaining active NPA members in the three provinces of the Samar islands.

“The data shows that the NPA manpower has significantly reduced from the 63 recorded individuals in 2022,” Amaro clarified.

It can be remembered that Major General Camilo Z. Ligayo, 8ID commander, announced during the Kapihan sa PIA Eastern Visayas on January 17, 2024, that Eastern Visayas is now free from communist guerrilla influence.

Ligayo’s announcement backed President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s statement released earlier in January this year stating that there are no more active guerrilla fronts in the country.
“Dito sa Eastern Visayas, wala na. Ang ibig sabihin nito wala na silang hawak na barangay, lahat ng barangays ay cleared na sa mga CTGs, so wala ng barangay na hawak nila (Here in Eastern Visayas, it’s over. This means they no longer have control over any barangay, all barangays have been cleared of CTGs, so they no longer hold any barangay),” Ligayo explained.

Ligayo also underscored that the success of the anti-insurgency campaign in the region can be attributed to the operationalization of Executive Order No. 70 or the whole-of-nation approach of the Regional Task Force against Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-8 ELCAC) composed of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, national government agencies, local government units, private sector, and other stakeholders.
(VTG, PIA Region VIII)