By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

(File photo)

MANILA – The defeat of five active guerrilla fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in Northern Samar and South Cotabato is already in sight, according to National Security Adviser Clarita Carlos on Friday.

Speaking at a Laging Handa press briefing, Carlos said the four CPP-NPA guerrilla fronts in Northern Samar province are expected to be dismantled by the first quarter of 2023 while the one remaining guerrilla front in South Cotabato province “already considerably weakened.”

Napakagandang mga istorya ito na talagang kapag nawala na lahat ng guerrilla fronts at kakaunti na rin ang remaining communist terrorist group members (It’s a good story if we are able to dismantle all guerrilla fronts since there are only a few communist terrorist group members),” Carlos said.

Baka ang buong kapuluan ay ma-declare na ni Presidente na insurgency-free. Ano ang implication nito? Ang implication nito (It’s possible that President [Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.] might declare the country insurgency-free. What will be its implication? Its implication is) the moment we have peace and order, there will be economic growth,” she added.

In a separate press briefing in Camp Crame, Quezon City on Friday, Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. presented eight NPA commanders who surrendered to authorities.

Only five out of the 89 communist guerrilla fronts remain active, based on the data released by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in November 2022.

Carlos said the government, through the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), will continue to beef up its efforts to defeat the CPP-NPA and achieve lasting peace and order in the country.

She made the vow, as she noted that she is “very happy” with the accomplishment report of the NTF-ELCAC.

“‘Yung mga report na naririnig ko (The reports I’ve been hearing) for the past three days would be number of scholarships, number of jobs created, number of trainings [the NTF-ELCAC is offering to former communist rebels]). As I said, by and large they are all in positive territory,” Carlos said.

Walang pagbabago. Sa halip ay magkakaroon ng mas maigting na efforts (There will be no changes [in the NTF-ELCAC’s initiatives]. Instead, we will continue to intensify our efforts [to address communist insurgency]),” she added.

Carlos also reacted to National Commission on Indigenous Peoples chairperson Allen Capuyan’s call on NTF-ELCAC Secretariat Executive Director Emmanuel Salamat to tender “voluntary” resignation” for supposed failure to “perform concrete actions” since the start of the Marcos administration.

She advised Capuyan to stop meddling with the NTF-ELCAC’s affairs and instead help the government in its fight against communist insurgency.

Carlos said such call is not helpful and will do nothing good. Instead, she said it is better to just help each other to achieve lasting peace.

Established by virtue of Executive Order 70 signed in 2018, the NTF-ELCAC chaired by the National Security Adviser is mandated to pursue a “whole-of-nation” approach to counter communist insurgency and attain “inclusive and sustainable peace.” (PNA)