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LGUs greed would put everything to waste

September 13, 2021 Paul M. Gutierrez 319 views

PaulSINCE the establishment of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) in 2019 by Pres. Duterte in 2019, it has, without a doubt, made great strides in weakening grassroots support for the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), its armed group, the New People’s Army (NPA) and its front organizations under the National Democratic Front (NDF).

Under its ‘WON/WOG’ (whole of nation/whole of government approach) strategy, more and more Filipinos are being made aware that the fight against this threat to our democratic way of life cannot be successfully concluded by the government alone; everybody must play their role consistently, diligently and even, passionately.

Indeed, it is remarkable that in just two years, the government can claim more confidently and with increasing basis that the Philippine armed communist movement is on the “verge of collapse,” its final demise, probably the most significant legacy that Pres. Duterte can leave behind.

But here, our optimism stops.

For in some parts of the country, like in the island provinces of Mindoro and Masbate and some parts of Quezon and Rizal provinces, the reports we continue to get is that most local government units (LGUs) remain in cahoots with the local CPP-NPA-NDF command, both as business partners for their criminal activities like illegal logging, illegal mining and rampant land grabbing of ancestral lands and of course, as an armed guarantor of winning the polls during election.

It is true, too, that the CPP has been severely weakened by now, no matter how vehemently this is being denied by the CPP’s Marco Villanueva. The number of terrorist surrenderees and the CPP’s diminishing strongholds are evidence to this.

But having survived martial law and all other past anti-insurgency campaigns by the government since then, there is basis too for the CPP to claim that it can also survive this administration and the NTF-ELCAC with the expected change of administration after next year’s polls.

Aside from their hope of ‘policy changes’ (dissolution of NTF-ELCAC, resumption of peace talks, among others) after next year’s polls, it can be said that another source of optimism for the CPP are the LGU executives and their equally greedy private sector partners who do not care at all about what the national government is doing or, to begin with, why the strategy to end CPP terrorism is called whole of nation, whole of government approach. They couldn’t care less.

Unless these LGUs are put in their proper places or a limit to their abuse of power decisively addressed, expect the CPP-NPA to regain its former vigor when the masses in the countryside again started to seek their help in addressing their immediate problems like landlessness, environmental destruction and injustice because the local governments are the ones actually committing these crimes or abetting their commission.

If nothing is done this early, the greed of these LGUs would put all gains of the NTF-ELCAC to waste. It has happened before and it can happen again.