EDITORIAL: Local strategy on war against terrorism
The debates in congress about the budget for the LTF-ELCAC or the Local Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict should have been dismissed in favor of other important economic development programs such as food security.
The executive branch proposed a P10-billion budget for NTF-ELCAC for 2023. But in October last year, the House realigned 5 billion from that proposed budget, a move that Gabriela called an “initial win, Gabriela being a known front organization of the CPP-NPA-NDF. One of flimsy the reasons given was the underutilization of funds, which was explained by the NTF-ELCAC.
The 50 years’ problem with the communist insurgency, alone, should have been a major reason to support the budget. The CPP-NPA-NDF has been labelled as terrorists for its reported violent activities such as torching construction equipment, and ambuscades which not only killed members of the military but also victimized innocent people.
The community-based approach of the NTF-ELCAC is a tested strategy not only in the military but also in development. Its accomplishments include the dismantling of guerrilla fronts; surrender of mass organizations; protection of the youth and poor sector and improved security conditions in communities. This has been achieved through the active participation of the LGUs, especially at the barangay level.
In every country’s insurgency problem, there are always two protagonists: the government and the insurgents or rebel groups. Both operate under national and local structures. On the rebel side, there is the top leadership, in this case, the NDF, at the middle are the front organizations, and at the ground are the armed groups of the NPA. The objective of the top leadership is power, at the middle convenient sharing of that power, while the objective of the armed group at the ground level is secured employment in the armed forces.
On the government side, the national leadership is the executive and legislative branches which are charged with making policy decisions. At the local levels the municipal and barangay units who are just implementing national policies and programs. The objectives of the top leadership are political power, and at the local level peace and development for their areas and constituents.
The real battleground is among the people on the ground. Hence, the community-based approach of the LTF-ELCAC is a sound strategy, and the proof is its known successes. Advocates of peace and development must support programs of the LTF-ELCAC.