The 1st Quarter MIMAROPA Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) meeting was held on January 8 virtually through Zoom.
MIMAROPA Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security or CORDS and Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi presided over the meeting attended by DOE Undersecretary Alexander S. Lopez, MIMAROPA Regional Development Council (RDC) Chairperson and Romblon Governor Jose R. Riano, Marinduque Governor Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr., leads and representatives of the RTF-ELCAC clusters, directors and representatives of regional line agencies (RLAs), local government units (LGUs), and private sector representatives.
In his message, Secretary Cusi emphasized how the country was not only battered with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), but also with earthquakes, typhoons, and communist terrorist atrocities that claimed lives, halted services, and damaged properties. He also acknowledged the members’ cheerful disposition, innate coping abilities, resilience, commitment, and dedication towards achieving the RTF-ELCAC objectives.
Meanwhile, LtCol. Jonathan Manio of the 2nd Infantry Division presented a consolidated report of the Peace, Law Enforcement, and Development Support (PLEDS) Cluster regarding the security situation in MIMAROPA and updates on peace, order, and drug situation.
Undersecretary Alexander S. Lopez presented a year-end assessment to understand the region’s standing in terms of ending local communist armed conflict, establish feedback mechanisms, and anticipate possible changes in the administration after 2022.
He also emphasized that the following strategies can be translated into concrete results in combatting insurgencies: (a) end armed struggle and security threats caused by the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG); (b) stop recruitment of youth and vulnerable sectors; (c) reduce all channels of funding support; and (d) support national efforts.
Some of the concerns raised during the open forum included recruitment and kidnapping of the youth, monitoring of communities where forceful recruitment is being done, and implementation of the National Identification System.
Meanwhile, the following were recommended: (a) encourage reporting of missing persons including children; (b) stimulate community involvement to gather immediate information; (c) provide rewards and incentives to key informants; and (d) consider issuance of local means of identification.
In closing, Secretary Cusi encouraged all RTF-ELCAC members to make necessary adjustments and act with a sense of urgency to combat CTGs. He also emphasized the need for coordination between and among clusters and agencies, LGUs to take a strong stance on their declaration of CTGs as persona non grata, and pursuance of justice and filing of cases against perpetrators. He added that there is no better way to monitor progress and solve problems than to agree to pursue key performance indicators.