Palawan is known to be the last frontier of the Philippines. The International tourists and even the locals visit the places around the island and enjoy relaxation, stop by in natural attractions, climb up to the mountain peaks, and get to discover hidden islets. As the tourism industry on the island increases, the government takes the responsibility of making these people safe as they enjoy and travel on the island. There have been rebellions or rebels in mountain ranges on the island. They are the people or organizations that are against the governance of the country and the government offers them peace and encourages them to surrender.
The Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC) was established in 2018 to settle the conflict between the government and the rebels in Palawan. This is a solution to end the rebellions and prevent recruitments, especially on children. In Palawa, most of the recruited belong to the Indigenous People (IPs). The PTF-ELCAC has made several programs that benefited the rebels who surrendered, and the community service they could offer.
As of now, the NTF ELCAC has currently faced an issue about defunding. Governor Jose Chavez sent a letter addressed to President Rodrigo Duterte to let them resume and to reconsider the defunding from the agency.
From the letter, it was stated “As the current issue to defund the NTF ELCAC program surfaces, we fervently appeal to the lawmakers of this country to reconsider its presumes adverse impacts. At this upsurge, it is essential that the corresponding resources are justly needed to support this indispensable campaign. We truly believe that we can replicate our previous feat and attain inclusive and sustainable peace thus, the continuous funding and implementation of the Support to Barangay Development Program (SBDP) for fiscal year 2022 and onwards”.
“With these, on behalf of the people of Palawan, we look for your optimistic response and reconsideration as we move forward in the same endeavor of obtaining sustained peace and harmony in our country,”. The agency is still waiting for the response to the letter.
Meanwhile, during an interview of CNN Philippines' The Source on Thursday, April 29, Senator Richard Gordon describes NTF ELCAC as “imbecilic, stupid, and shameful.”
“They have no right to do that. People are doing their business in peace. They are not violating the law. Why should they bother with this? Dapat magfocus sila sa iba (They should focus on other matters),” Gordon said.
“Bakit sila nagfo-focus dito sa mga taong tumutulong sa kapwa at nagpapakita ng bayanihan sa ating bayan? I think it’s imbecilic, it’s stupid and shameful,” he added.
On the other hand, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. defended the NTF ELCAC and assured that there is no misuse of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict's funds following calls from some lawmakers to realign its budget.
“We at the NTF-ELCAC have nothing to gain from the BDP apart from the fulfillment of our legal mandate,. The failure to deliver this program would not just mean frustration among us at NTF-ELCAC and the principles that we stand for. Rather, the failure to deliver the barangay development program to the formerly conflicted communities that need it the most is tantamount to abandoning their aspirations for a dignified life.” Esperon said.
Philippine Information Office Palawan
Philippine News Agency