By Martin Sadongdong
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana led a meeting with top officials of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) in a bid to address the region’s years-long problem on the communist insurgency.
Lorenzana, who was designated by President Duterte as the BARMM’s Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security (CORDS), said the meeting centered on the RTF-ELCAC’s orientation on Executive Order No. 70 — which institutionalizes the “whole-of-nation” approach in attaining an inclusive and sustainable peace — and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
According to Lorenzana, the meeting opened communications among stakeholders to align and fortify all peace efforts in the region with the national peace, security and development agenda of the government.
“Central to the national peace agenda is the strong belief that the armed conflict is not only a military and security concern as it is deeply rooted on broader social, economic and historical injustices,” the Defense Chief stated during the meeting held at the military’s 6th Infantry Division Headquarters, Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao on Thursday.
“Thus, it is only through social healing, reconciliation, and national unity that we can finally end armed conflict that has brought death and extreme suffering to our brothers and sisters — regardless of religion, ethnicity, creed and political belief,” he added.
EO 70 was signed by President Duterte on December 4, 2018, after he formally terminated with finality the peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP).
EO 70 institutionalizes the whole-of-nation approach in the fight against communist insurgency by harmonizing the delivery of basic services and social development projects, facilitating societal inclusivity and ensuring the active participation of all sectors of the society in the pursuit of the country’s peace agenda.
The BARMM RTF-ELCAC is part of the NTF-ELCAC which was then created by virtue of EO 70.
Lorenzana was joined by Defense Undersecretary for Defense Operations Cesar Yano; Bangsamoro ministers and heads of agencies led by BARMM Chief Minister Murad Ebrahim; representatives from regional planning and development agencies including the Mindanao Development Authority and Southern Philippines Development Authority; and military and police commanders.