President Rodrigo Duterte joined the National Task Force – Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF – RTF ELCAC) meeting in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan on November 4. ​​​​​​​

Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go was also present  at the event, along with a number of cabinet secretaries and officials and over 200 representatives from national and regional government offices, local government units, and local media.

​​​​​​​The joint meeting aimed to showcase ELCAC related accomplishments and completed infrastructure projects in Palawan under the present administration. Turnover of programs and projects to beneficiaries was also done during the President’s Hour.

During the refresher orientation of government executives, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) Regional Director Ariel T. Perlado emphasized that addressing insurgency and terrorism, particularly in the province of Palawan, becomes not just the role of the  Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police, but also with concerted efforts of MIMAROPA RTF ELCAC member agencies. He assured everyone that the newly established NICA MIMAROPA Regional Office is willing to help the RTF ELCAC in pursuing its goals and objectives.

​​​​​​​The following ELCAC related accomplishments and completed infrastructure projects under PRRD’s administration were presented: (a) PTF ELCAC Palawan accomplishments; (b). Department of Transportation Projects in Palawan; (c) Department of Public Works and Highways Projects in Palawan and  Department of Agriculture’s Philippine Rural Development Project; (d) Tatak ng Pagbabago ng Department of Social Weather and Development (DSWD) MIMAROPA Region sa Probinsya ng Palawan; (e) Department of Health MIMAROPA 2016 – 2021 Milestone Projects; (f) Commission on Higher Education MIMAROPA’s Free Tuition and Peace and Order in the Campuses; (g) National Commission for Indigenous Peoples’ Indigenous Peoples Empowerment Programs and Activities; (h) Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) MIMAROPA TVET Situationer and 2021 Scholarship Program Report; (i) Department of Agrarian Reform MIMAROPA’s Installation and Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) Distribution in Busuanga,  Palawan; and (j) Department of the Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) Implementation of Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP) in Palawan.

Meanwhile, NTF ELCAC Vice Chairperson and National Security Adviser  Hermogenes C. Esperon Jr., DILG Undersecretary for Local Government Marlo L. Iringan, DILG MIMAROPA Regional Director Wilhelm M. Suyko, and Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) Executive Director Atty. Teodoro Jose S. Matta led  the symbolic turnover of financial assistance for Kapatiran ng Dating Rebelde (KADRE) and Fiscal Year (FY)  2021 Local Government Support Fund – Support to Barangay Development Projects (LGSF-SBDP) in Palawan to beneficiaries present during the event.

Prior to the President’s Hour, the President  graced the inauguration of Philippine Ports Authority’s (PPA) Seaport Expansion Project and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Kalayaan Station.  He was accompanied by Senator Go, Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur P. Tugade, Palawan Governor Jose CH Alvarez, Puerto Princesa City Mayor Lucilo R. Bayron, and representatives from PPA Palawan and PCG.

​​​​​​​Governor Jose CH Alvarez expressed his profound gratitude to the President, Secretary Tugade, and PPA General Manager Jay Daniel R. Santiago for the realization of the port expansion project. He hope that the Puerto Princesa Port will serve as Palawan’s main maritime gateway to Manila and the provinces of Oriental and Occidental Mindoro once the economy and lives of Filipinos affected by the COVID-19 pandemic are back to normal. Moreover, he expects that trade, commerce, and tourism in the city and whole province of Palawan will improve due to the expansion of Puerto Princesa Port.

Meanwhile, Sec. Tugade expressed his delight in witnessing the completed projects made possible by the DOTr in the province of Palawan under President Duterte’s administration. These projects are located in various strategic areas in the province and are expected to improve connectivity and tourism in the province, nearby provinces, and countries in the Southeast Asia.

​​​​​​​The newly acquired Cessna Caravan Plane (PCG2018) and PCG Kalayaan Station in Pag-asa Island were also inaugurated during the event. These projects take part of the PCG’s capacity building and modernization program to improve maritime safety, security, stability, and domain awareness in the West Philippine Sea.

In his message, President Duterte welcomed infrastructure development in the province as continuing efforts in overcoming and recovering from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the country’s economy. He considered it as a significant milestone under the administration’s Build Build Build Program. He also expressed his excitement to see the outcome of said infrastructure projects, particularly port projects, in boosting Palawan’s growth, accommodating increased vessel traffic, facilitating efficient handling of cargo, and enhancing overall port productivity.

After the inauguration activities, the President  and his entourage joined the NTF-RTF ELCAC meeting at Camp General Artemio Ricarte.

In his welcome remarks, Puerto Princesa City Mayor Lucilo R. Bayron expressed his gratitude to the President for visiting the city. He assured him  that the citizens of Puerto Princesa City remain supportive to him and his administration.

Meanwhile, Sec. Esperon highlighted efforts of the NTF ELCAC in addressing communist insurgency in the country, particularly in the MIMAROPA region and Palawan. He said that the NTF ELCAC is making great strides in dismantling CTGs across the country and in weakening its forces. He emphasized the importance and impacts of SBDP projects in CTG-affected barangays.

MIMAROPA Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security and Energy Secretary Aflonso G. Cusi delivered his report to the President. He highlighted accomplishments in the region under the President’s Agenda for peace and order, significantly reducing criminality, anti-drug campaign, ending insurgency, and uplifting lives of Filipinos, particularly in Palawan. He expressed his gratitude to everyone for continuously supporting the administration in achieving peace and development in Palawan and in the MIMAROPA region.

In closing, the President  reiterated several infrastructure development accomplishments in the province. He said that these are proof of where people’s money was used and spent for. He expressed his appreciation towards his cabinet secretaries for continuously supporting him and doing their tasks swiftly and without any mark of corruption.

On the other hand, he expressed his disappointment in several key issues such as: (a) failed peace talks with CTGs due to the supposed lack of accountability on the part of Communist Party of the Philippines; (b) power and energy instability in the province; and (c) country’s economy due to the pandemic.

He assured all Palaweños that he will act promptly to solve the energy problem since it is impressed with public goods. He remained hopeful and positive that the country’s economy will recover as trust from international financial world remains strong. The President concluded that his administration, through the national and local partners, is one with the people of Palawan in pushing initiatives and programs that will secure lasting peace for the province and the country.