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Eleazar cites need for whole-of-gov’t approach vs Reds

FOLLOWING guidance from Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, General Debold M. Sinas, PNP Officer-in-Charge, Lieutenant Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar yesterday called on all police commanders in the country to further strengthen their partnership with the community and adopt the ‘whole-of-government’ approach needed to finally put an end to the more than 5-decades old New People’s Army insurgency.

The PNP-OIC specifically gave the task to commanders in areas with a considerable presence of NPA rebels asking the officials to strengthen their police-community work in order to finally put a stop to the cycle of violence being perpetrated by the communist rebels for more than five decades now.

Eleazar issued the order as he visited Daet, Camarines Norte to personally check on the medical condition of the two policemen wounded in a clash with NPA guerrillas and at the same time pay his last respects to the five other members of the 2nd Camarines Norte Police Provincial Mobile Force Company who were killed during the rebel attack in the municipality of Labo on Friday night.

During the visit, Eleazar also handed over the financial assistance to both the wounded personnel and the families of the policemen who died in the ambush from the PNP including that from Gen. Sinas and Police Regional Office 5 director, Brigadier Gen. Bartolome R. Bustamante.

“Bata pa lang ako sa Tagkawayan (Quezon), nababalitaan ko na yung mga ambush ng NPA sa ating mga kasundaluhan at sa mga pulis. Ako mismo, bilang police commander ay namatayan na rin ng mga tauhan, mga kapatid sa serbisyo dahil sa communist insurgency,” he told Bicol police officers and men.

“Ngayon, nangyari na naman ito kung saan namatayan tayo ng limang kapatid sa serbisyo. Huwag na nating hayaan na paulit-ulit pang mangyari ito in the future. Tapusin na natin ito dahil hindi lang tayo sa PNP, sa AFP ang naapektuhan nito kundi ang ating bansa, ang taumbayan na napeperhuwisyo sa mga pag-atakeng ito,” he said.

Eleazar said the ambush perpetrated on Friday night was planned and this means that the local residents either aided the planned attacks as supporters or out of fear, or they have knowledge of the presence of the communist rebels before the attack.

The order of Eleazar is in support of the objective of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) to put an end to communist insurgency problem in the country through the ‘whole-of-government’ approach not only in encouraging the NPA rebels to surrender but also enlist the support of the people in the community through peace and development programs and projects.

The NTF-ELCAC, which is supported by President Duterte is currently pushing for the implementation of the Barangay Development Program which allocates millions of funds to the barangays previously infested but were already cleared of the influence of the CPP-NPA-NDF.

The programs being spearheaded by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr., include livelihood opportunity, road construction and improvement, water, health and sanitation and projects related to education. Those projects have been deprived to the local community due to the presence of the CPP-NPA-NDF, officials said

These barangays were cleared of NPAs from 2016 to 2019 and will receive funding to address issues such as poverty, isolation, disease, hunger, and lack of educational and livelihood opportunities -things that Esperon said are allegedly being used by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) to trick poor people in the communities to join NPA.

Camarines Norte Governor Edgardo Tallado vowed to support the programs and projects of the NTF-ELCAC in order for the province to totally enjoy the peace and development which have long affected by NPA presence in some of the communities in the province.

Eleazar stressed the importance of the trust, confidence and cooperation of the people in the community to the government, through the PNP, in order to effectively put an end to communist insurgency.

To highlight the importance of community cooperation, Eleazar cited the case of the Abu Sayyaf Group landing in Bohol in 2017 supposedly to conduct kidnapping, recruitment and other atrocities.

“But it was the local residents who tipped the police about the presence of armed men in their community. Our local police force, after confirming the report, immediately coordinated with the AFP and the National Headquarters to mobilize the necessary manpower to run after the ASG,” he said.

“And we all know the result, the ASG members who went to Bohol were either killed or arrested, even before they could find comfort in that province. So this is something that we want to replicate in communities with NPA presence, if we succeed in winning the trust and confidence of the people in the community, sila na mismo ang makikipagtulungan upang panatilihing tahimik at maunlad ang kanilang mga komunidad,” he explained.

Eleazar said the police-community work should be backed by aggressive operations against the NPA in order to prevent them from terrorizing the community and stalling development projects of the government.

Police were deployed to secure a road project in Labo after the CPP-NPA-NDF demanded 3 percent to 5 percent of the company revenues in exchange for an assurance that the project will not be harassed nor their heavy equipment burned.