Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija – Another round of meeting was conducted by members of the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict in Region III (RTF ELCAC-3) at Social Action Center, City of San Fernando, Pampanga on November 8, 2019.
In the opening remarks given by Major General Lenard T. Agustin, Commander of the 7th Infantry “Kaugnay” Division (7ID), Philippine Army, he mentioned that one of the main objectives of the meeting was to operationalize the Peace, Law Enforcement and Development Support (PLEDS) cluster in the provincial and municipal levels to sustain the momentum of other clusters of RTF ELCAC-3.
PLEDS was also the point of emphasis of Secretary Carlito G. Galvez Jr., Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU), and also Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security (CORDS). During the meeting, he pointed out that before sustainable development could take place, inclusive peace should be in place. Hence, making the PLEDS cluster the core cluster among the 12 clusters of TF ELCAC in whatever level.
Sec. Galvez was joined by Regional Directors of the different government agencies that compose the PLEDS Cluster of Region 3. The meeting was highlighted with OPAPRU’s gift-giving to 28 former rebels that surrendered to the security forces in the region.
Lieutenant General Ramiro Manuel Rey, Commander of the Northern Luzon Command, said that the role of other government agencies and LGUs in ending the armed conflict cannot be undermined, as they are important instruments that encourage local terrorists and their supporters to trust the government once more.
This fact holds true as for the past week up to today (November 6-11, 2019), a total of 137 NPA members and their supporters have returned to the mainstream of society in the provinces of Nueva Ecija, Pampanga and Aurora, all under Region 3, and belonging to 7ID’s area of responsibility.
“It is evident that this is the result of the ‘whole-of-nation approach’, for the provinces of Nueva Ecija and Aurora has already declared local terrorists as persona non grata and have consequently formed provincial Task Force ELCAC at their level,” Major General Agustin said. He further added that “without the cooperation of our local government units and local chief executives, down to the barangay level, this would not have been possible.”