PASIG CITY (February 1, 2020) — The Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) is against the government’s plan to intensify the implementation of socio-economic interventions in conflict-ridden communities because the organization is fast losing its clout and relevance, according to Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez, Jr.
“The number of rebel returnees grows day by day because they have realized that the government already has programs and policies in place that aim to address their needs and general welfare. Hence, there is no more reason for them to bear arms and pursue armed struggle,” he said.
“The armed struggle has no legitimacy in a civilized society. Armed violence is an anathema of peace and development, and the CPP-NPA should be disbanded,” Galvez added.
He believed that CPP founder Jose Maria Sison’s continued attacks on the government’s peace agenda is a response to the successful implementation of Executive Order No. 70 which institutionalized a “Whole-of-Nation Approach”, implementation of good governance, and promotion of social justice to end the decades-long communist rebellion.
“Sison and company are working overtime to sabotage the implementation of EO No. 70 because their organization will be rendered irrelevant. Obviously, they are hurting because of the government’s successes on it current inclusive peace and developments efforts,” Galvez said.
LPE gains so much ground
EO 70 has led to the creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), which has 12 clusters. Among these clusters is Localized Peace Engagements (LPE).
Galvez said Sison must understand that EO 70 is “people-centered and community-based in finding lasting solutions on the root causes of social divides and conflict; and not a military security operations as how Sison tried to label and demonize it.”
EO 70 is anchored in serving the people, their families, their communities and improving their social conditions and their lives for an enduring peace and inclusive growth.
“EO 70 has nothing to do with military combat operations but more on how to harmonize our government instrumentalities and services in addressing the needs of our people. EO 70’s ultimate objectives are on the attainment of social justice and equitable service to humanity through the LPEs,” Galvez explained.
LPE, among others, aims to empower people, make communities conflict-resilient, and provide a safe and direct line of communication between the government, the people and rebels who want to give up armed struggle.
Debunking Sison’s claim of fake surrenderees
Earlier this month, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte distributed P 11.9 million in immediate cash assistance to 262 former rebels in Leyte under the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP). These cash assistance were released through the local agencies and people’s cooperatives.
In November 2019, 35 members of the CPP-NPA’s Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee availed of the E-CLIP after LPEs were successfully conducted in the Zamboanga Peninsula.
The rebel returnees, who are now living peaceful and productive lives as civilians, have promised to convince their comrades to lay down their arms and return to the folds of the law.
At present, thousands of armed regular members and supporters are now enjoying the dividends of the government programs for NPA combatants and their families.
“In order to achieve peace, we need to address the root causes of the conflict and insurgency. We are already doing it right now through a more comprehensive, efficient and timely delivery of basic services and livelihood assistance programs for the former members of the NPA and the affected-communities,” Galvez said.
Era of good governance
Responding to Sison’s claim that the P21-billion funds for conflict-affected barangays “will only be a kind of racket for military officers who will pocket the money,” the Presidential Peace Adviser pointed out that the communist leader is grossly misinformed and outdated in his outlook.
“The funds will not be released to the Armed Forces of the Philippines but directly to the local government units, communities and people’s organization. The implementation of the different projects will follow stringent finance regulations such as accounting and auditing procedures,” Galvez emphasized.
“Maybe Sison is talking to himself because their financial system is being controlled by only a few and mostly their ‘party wives’ are acting as finance officers. Their management system is dictatorial wherein ‘financial opportunism’ and corruption are very prevalent,” Galvez disclosed.
Galvez said that communities across the country have largely benefited from government programs and policies which are primarily designed to improve socio-economic conditions in these remote and conflict-stricken areas.
“Sison is so far away from what is actually happening on the ground, in which case he is either unaware or just ignoring the positive developments that are happening to these communities. Sison has no moral high ground and is not in the right mind to judge and prevent what is good for the Filipino people,” Galvez said.
Government’s legitimate mandate to bring progress to Filipinos
Galvez added that the fund earmarked for insurgency-cleared and conflict-threatened barangays will be used to build much-needed infrastructures such as farm-to-market roads and bridges, electricity, food security, housing, training and health centers, water systems, and undertake livelihood interventions are anchored on President Duterte’s directive to promote good governance, equitable access to government services and remove hunger and poverty in the near future.
“The government’s mandate is to serve and protect the people. Through good governance, we are addressing the social ills and roots of the armed conflict,” he said.
Galvez explained the fund is a result of the convergence of efforts among concerned line agencies after LPEs were conducted by local government units in insurgency-affected communities.
“These funds will be lodged with concerned government agencies as part of the General Appropriation Act,” Galvez emphasized.
He added that programs under this fund will be implemented using a “peace lens” to ensure the success and sustainability of projects.
The KAPATIRAN model
As a testament to the success of LPEs to address the roots of armed conflict, Galvez cited the remarkable transformation of a CPP-NPA rejectionist group into a mainstream civilian organization.
The Rebolusyonaryong Partidong Manggagawa ng Pilipinas/ Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade-Tabara Paduano Group (RPM-P/RPA/ABB-TPG) split from the CPP-NPA in the 90s mainly because of the former’s belief that armed struggle was not a solution to the country’s ills.
Through continuous consultations with the government and other stakeholders, the RPM-P/RPA/ABB-TPG has transitioned into a civilian entity called KAPATIRAN, which has now decommissioned 727 of its profiled members in September 2019.
The KAPATIRAN and the government are governed by a Clarificatory Implementing Document they signed in July 2019, which outlines their commitments to each other, including the disposition of arms and forces which has already been accomplished.
Due to its success, Galvez pointed out that the KAPATIRAN model can be applied to the government’s peace process with the CPP-NPA-NDF.
“As the government agency tasked to build and sustain bridges of peace, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process sincerely hopes that the CPP-NPA-NDF can adapt to the times, and more importantly, its leadership to consider the welfare of the Filipino people,” he said.
“Let us stop making martyrs out of our sons and daughters because armed struggle will not, in any way, help resolve the problems our nation is facing,” Galvez added.
Communist abusing communities for years
Galvez also questioned the sincerity of the communist group to protect the welfare of the people, as their members continue to collect extortion monies from those whose interests they claim to be fighting for.
“And let us keep in mind that the places where the insurgents have a strong presence are also the same areas which have the highest poverty incidence in the country. Isn’t this ironic?” he said.
“Where do the communist spend their extortion money? Guns smuggling? To fund their criminal activities? The communities they have infested have remained poor for years. So, where’s the welfare of the people that they are trying to protect? These are all happening while their leaders such as Sison are living in style in Europe,” Galvez pointed out.
“It’s no wonder why many members of the New People’s Army have returned to the mainstream society because of the living conditions in the mountains – hungry, sick, wounded from the battle, dispossessed, and practically abandoned by their leaders who continue to indulge themselves abroad with lavishness, unmindful of the real situation on the ground,” Galvez added.
Since 2010, the attacks carried out by the rebels on private companies have resulted to more than P5-billion in damages. A Company reported losses amounting to P2.8-billion following an attack by the insurgents in 2017.
“Clearly, these are just plain criminal acts on the part of the communists. There’s no ideology whatsoever behind these atrocities. They even burned road equipment and projects intended for poor communities. They should have spared civilian targets.” Galvez said. ###