By: Jennifer P. Rendon
A year after President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Executive Order No. 70, the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division declared its has gained headway in its anti-insurgency campaign.
Signed in Dec. 4, 2018, EO No. 70 is about “Institutionalizing the Whole-Of-Nation Approach in Attaining Inclusive and Sustainable Peace, Creating A National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, and Directing the Adoption of A National Peace Framework.”
Captain Cenon Pancito III, 3rd ID spokesman, said they accomplished EO 70’s goal to institutionalize the “Whole-of-Nation Approach” in attaining inclusive and sustainable peace.
“Let’s go back to the intent of EO 70, which is the convergence of all efforts of government agencies in a bid to end insurgency. Task forces and sub-task forces were created for the purpose,” he said.
Through mechanisms under EO 70, several task forces were created like the Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF-ELCAC).
Pancito said different government agencies have strengthened the base for the full implementation of the order, just a year after it was signed.
“People should expect more activities and operations to be done for the people,” he said.
Pancito said they have long recognized that the AFP alone cannot end insurgency.
“We also acknowledged that the root causes of insurgency like lack of social services in the past are valid,” he said.
Under EO 70, convergence of efforts is a primordial concern for agencies to deliver basic social services and answer the people’s needs, especially those in the countryside.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) did not share the same sentiments with the Army.
The militant group staged a small protest action on Wednesday claiming that “political Tokhang” has escalated with EO 70.
Bayan-Panay Secretary General Elmer Forro said that “what is rampant after its implementation is the criminalization of dissent, and instead of resolving the economic woes of the people, the government has resorted to run after progressive groups, brandish them as communist fronts, plant pieces of evidence during raids and file trumped-up charges to legitimize their set-up operations and worst, kill the activists.”
Human rights group Karapatan claimed that from July 2016 to June 2019, 266 members of progressive groups were killed on top of 404 frustrated killings, 2,443 illegal arrests and 85,534 cases of threats, harassments, and intimidations.
“The targets are not rebels but the critics of this government,” Forro said.
But Pancito countered Forro claiming that EO 70 is about ending local communist armed conflict.
“Bakit communist ba sila? Are they anti-development. Nowhere in EO 70 said that they are targets. Masasaktan lang sila if they are communists or are against the progress in the countryside,” he said.
Instead of criticizing the government, Pancito urged progressive groups to work with them for common good of the people.