METRO MANILA, (20 July 2020) — The Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) in Central Luzon has pledged to fully support the implementation of the second phase of the National Action Plan on COVID-19 (NAP COVID-19).

The NAP COVID-19 Phase 2, which remains anchored on the Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate (PDITR) Strategy, has expanded its focus from preventing, containing, and eliminating the threat of the virus, to ensuring the health and safety of the public while reviving the nation’s economy.

“‘Yong Phase 1 po ng NAP COVID-19 from March to June 2020, ang primary focus natin is really to save lives while sacrificing our economy. At naging successful naman po ‘yon but with a great impact on our economy,” noted National Task Force on COVID-19 (NTF COVID-19) Chief Implementer Carlito G. Galvez Jr., during a virtual meeting with RTF-ELCAC 3 members on Thursday.

“Ngayong Phase 2 magbabago na po tayo ng focus considering that we have reached the tipping point. So ang gagawin po natin, we will improve and further sustain our health local capacity so that we can keep the fatality rate low, while at the primacy is leading to economic recovery,” added Galvez, who also serves as the Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security (CORDS) for Region 3.


Local responses on COVID-19

Bataan Governor Albert Raymond Garcia shared how his province managed the safe arrival of Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs) and Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIs).

“Nagtayo po kami ng centralized processing center nang sa gayon, kapag na-endorse na ng OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration) ay susunduin at dadalhin muna sa processing center, ire-resgister po sila, at ite-test muli since may local testing capability na po ang Bataan,” he said.

Meanwhile, Zambales Governor Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. said his province is focused on the psychological recovery of the youth who have been traumatized by the health crisis.

“’Yong ginagawa namin sa Zambales, lalo na dito sa reintegration, we’re coming up with a program wherein we will involve a psychological recovery program for the youth,” Ebdane explained.

“Ngayon sa mga bata, napansin namin na ‘pag nagtanong tayo sa mga bata, marami ‘yung takot lumabas. So, we see the need to come up with some symposia. Of course, limited para at least maipaliwanag sa kanila and we need to appease the mind of the youth that this is not a permanent problem,” he added.


Insurgency-free areas a gateway to improved economy

Garcia also related how Bataan, being the first province to establish an economic zone, has addressed the insurgency problem in the area by providing thousands of jobs through its manufacturing and assembly line industries.

“Bataan is the first province in Region 3 na naging insurgency free and because of this, dumami po ang trabaho. At siyempre, kung papipiliin po ‘yong ating mga kababayan na lumalahok sa kilusan kung meron siyang magandang trabaho at nakita niyang magkakaroon ng magandang kinabukasan ‘yung kanyang mga anak, ‘yun na lang po ‘yung kanyang pipiliin kaysa mamundok,” he said.

As Bataan transitions to the ‘new normal,’ the governor said the province is gradually re-opening its economic zone with the goal of creating new jobs for its people.

“Ngayon po under the new normal, I would like to report na 30,000 jobs na po ang bumalik sa freeport area of Bataan,” he said.

Galvez thanked the regional body for their unwavering commitment to their work for peace, while confronting head-on the challenges brought about by the health crisis.

“Ako ay nagpapasalamat sa ating mga governors at mga LGUs sa kanilang matapang na paglaban sa COVID. Ang sinasabi nga po ng ating mahal na Pangulo, ang paglaban po ng COVID ay hindi lang po sa national government, but more on the local government units,” he said.

“I would like to congratulate you all for your outstanding work. It is amazing to see such a group of dedicated public servants, particularly our governors who are present here to share a common goal for just and lasting peace. Sa gitna ng hamon na dulot ng COVID-19, nananatili pa rin tayong matatag, matapang, at handang tumulong sa ating mga kababayan” Galvez added.

To date, the Central Luzon anti-insurgency task force has established 137 local ELCAC task forces at the provincial, city, and municipal levels, as well as 2,812 barangay task forces. All LGUs in the region have declared the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) as persona non-grata.

The RTF-ELCAC is a localized strategy in implementing the “Whole-of-Nation” approach as mandated under Executive Order No. 70. ###