Political leaders in the different local government units play a crucial role to win the fight against insurgency. This was underscored by Environment Secretary and Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security (CORDS) Roy A. CimatuRegional during the meeting of the Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC).

“I am very confident in your capability and ability. The one who can solve the problem will be the leaders themselves. You know the problem, you know the solution,” Cimatutold local leaders in Negros Occidental during a meeting with them at Acacia Hotel in Negros Occidental.

Cimatu and the regional directors of other national government agencies looked into the project proposals of the leaders and encouragedresidents of Negros Occidental to pursue economic opportunities to prevent them from being recruited by Communist Terrorist Groups (CTG).

The province of Negros Occidental formed the Provincial Task Force – ELCAC in August this year pursuant to President Rodrigo RoaDuterte’s Executive Order (EO) 70 or the Whole-of-Nation Approach to attain inclusive and sustainable peace. The EO also created the National Task Force-ELCAC to put an end to local communist armed conflict and directed the adoption of a national peace framework.

Candoni Mayor Cicero “Celot” D. Borromeotold Cimatu that the government can never end insurgency unless the people are fed or has something to feed themselves. Borromeo said that the rebels easily recruit those living in inaccessible areas in the hinterlands because they are hungry and “clutch the knife”, to feed their families.

The government is harnessing government resources to reach out to far-flung communities and to provide basic services. Roads are being built to provide access to people, farm products and government services.
On the pipeline is the provision of livelihood opportunities and healthcare.

The Whole-of-Nation approach aims to address the root causes of insurgencies. It is a big shift from the traditional military-centric scheme to a civilian-led approach in untangling the influence of the CTGsespecially among hinterlands communities. The military solution, however, is still one of the many components in addressing insurgencies.

Negros Occidental has seventy seven (77) CTG-influenced barangays out of the ninety seven (97) in Western Visayas.The Communist Party of the Philippines–New People’s Army (CPP–NPA) cadres in Negros Occidental have decreased in numbers in recent years and their presence is mainly located in the first, fifth, and sixth districts, as per military report.

“The DENR 6 has provided livelihood opportunities for people in upland communities, and we hired former rebels as forest guards. With this thrust on ELCAC, the DENR 6 will be working more intensively for our upland communities to avail DENR’s basic services and engage them in more purposeful livelihood activities,” said Francisco E. Milla, Jr., Regional Executive Director of DENR 6.