Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte – The local chief executive here has credited the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) for the transformation of the municipality from a former New People’s Army (NPA) lair into a developing peaceful town.
In an interview on Thursday afternoon, Mayor Ernesto Evangelista recounted that Sto. Tomas previously has been the hiding place of rebels.
“They get their supplies here in the municipality. They have their sanctuary here before,” he said, describing the situation as “worse” for the town’s development.
“Due to NTF-ELCAC, everything changed as it had a great impact in our municipality. It is a legacy of President Rodrigo Duterte,” he added.
The NTF-ELCAC is a task force organized by the government to respond and raise awareness of the communist insurgency in the countryside. It was created through Executive Order 70 signed by President Duterte in 2018 institutionalizing the whole-of-nation approach to address the local communist armed conflict.
It is a convergence of various government agencies grouped into 12 clusters with their specific mandates.
“The boundaries between Sto. Tomas and Paquibato District in Davao City is now peaceful. Mayor Inday created Peace 911 to secure Paquibato and with NTF-ELCAC, it was even more secured,” Evangelista said.
Evangelista recalled that before the formation of NTF-ELCAC, military detachments were not visible in their municipality.
“Now, we work hand in hand with the military for development,” he said.
Also, he thanked the national government for granting two of his barangays – Magwawa and San Jose – as recipients of the Barangay Development Program (BDP) under NTF-ELCAC.
A hallmark program of the NTF-ELCAC with the end goal of bringing development to former conflict-prone communities, the BDP forms part of the government’s whole-of-nation approach in fighting the rebellion waged by the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) in the countryside.
The program aims to eradicate the root causes of the insurgency, poverty, disease, lack of education and opportunities, and social injustice in remote communities across the country identified to have been influenced by the communist ideology.
In 2021 the BDP targeted to rehabilitate and develop 822 Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas formerly established, influenced by the CPP-NPA-NDF in many parts of the country.
This year, 1,406 barangays have been identified to benefit from the BDP.
“It has created a huge impact. We were given ₱ 40 million for the two barangays for farm-to-market roads and livelihood projects,” the mayor said.
Evangelista also hopes that the next administration would sustain NTF-ELCAC to further help develop insurgency-free barangays. (Che Palicte)
(Source: Philippine News Agency)