Days after the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) discovered the Red October plot of the CPP/NDF/NPA, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has declared its support for the AFP's call for the creation of an Inter-agency Task Force to quell the communist insurgency.
DILG OIC-Secretary Eduardo M. Año says that nipping communist recruitment in the bud entails a whole-of-government approach in order to address the socio-politico-economic problems that threaten the stability of the country.
“The government is cognizant that effectively ending insurgency requires not only police and military response but necessitates a triad of development, governance and security efforts,” he says.
Año says he concurs with AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. that civilian agencies and other stakeholders must be aware of and integrated in the whole-of-government strategy of quashing communist recruitment.
“Insurgency is rooted in poverty, inequality, and grievances that could be addressed by respective mandates of various government institutions. We have all the mechanisms to face these issues but all government agencies have to perform our roles in a concerted manner,” he points out.
The DILG Chief, who is a former AFP Chief of Staff, says that communist insurgency is not primarily a military or police problem but a ‘governance problem.’
"In fact we are are winning the battle in the mountains. There are so many surrenderers now. It's in the propaganda war and parliamentary battle that we are loosing. The National Task Force will ensure that other government agencies help the DND and DILG in this effort," he said.
He says that civilian government agencies must be aware of the real situation and fulfill their mandates so as to prevent build-up of public grievances that communist terrorist rebels exploit to stir anti-government sentiments such as corruption, price hikes, and labor sector and Indigenous Peoples concerns.
“Communists are using as propaganda the inefficacies of government to advance their aspiration of toppling democracy. Thus all instrumentalities of the government have to recognize their role in addressing this urgent and long standing problem,” he says.
As to the part of the DILG, he assures that the Department is instilling good governance among local government units (LGUs) who are at the forefront of public service delivery.
He also says there is no need for a loyalty check among the ranks of the Philippine National Police (PNP) “whose allegiance is to the Constitution and the people.”
“The DILG and the Department of National Defense (DND), as well as the PNP and AFP, are one in preserving the stability of the state. Our police and soldiers are ruled by law and accountable to the sovereign people only,” he says.
DILG assistance for communist rebel surrenderers
Meanwhile, DILG Spokesperson, Assistant Secretary Jonathan E. Malaya, says that the Department is assisting in addressing communist insurgency through the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP), the government’s flagship program for its reintegration effort for former communist rebels.
Malaya belies the claim of National Democratic Front of the Philippines consultant Rey Casambre who says that the AFP’s proposed inter-agency Task Force will not succeed in its goal to counter insurgency in the country.
“Contrary to Casambre’s statement that the basic social, economic and political reforms are not being done and will never work, hundreds of surrenders are evident in various regions in the country through the E-CLIP which is becoming more and more comprehensive and integrated,” he says.
"We are pleased by the success of our E-CLIP program and we welcome all rebels who wish to return to mainstream society," he adds.
The Implementing Rules and Regulations of Administrative Order No. 10 series of 2018 that created Task Force Balik-Loob specifies additional benefits to former rebels such as housing assistance or housing unit from the National Housing Authority.
They also get a monthly modified conditional cash transfer after being referred by a Provincial Social Welfare and Development Officer to the Department of Social Welfare and Development for enrolment in the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
Malaya said that standard E-CLIP benefits that have been given to hundreds of beneficiaries are P15,000 immediate assistance per former rebel for mobilization expenses while his or her enrollment in the program is being done; a P50,000 livelihood assistance; and firearms remuneration.