TACLOBAN CITY – Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) Secretary Eduardo Del Rosario, as chair of the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict-8 (RTF-ELCAC8), on Thursday cited President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s strong political will resulting in heavy gains by the government against communist terrorists, particularly in Eastern Visayas.

In his report to President Duterte, Secretary Del Rosario, who is also the Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security 8 (CORDS8), said that with the convergence of all efforts toward ending insurgency problem in the area, the RTF-ELCAC8 sees the imminent defeat of the CPP-NPA-NDF.

He noted the effective whole of nation approach to end insurgency in Region 8 particularly the implementation of development initiatives coupled with sustained joint police and military operations.

“Mr. President, this is the first time in our country’s history that we see all these happening because of your strong leadership, clear direction and uncompromising political will as chairman of the NTF-ELCAC,” Secretary Del Rosario said.

“With strong political will from both the national and local leadership, the convergence of efforts by all stakeholders, we are confident that RTF-ELCAC8 will be able to neutralize the CPP-NPA-NDF,” he added.

Secretary Del Rosario lauded local chief executives of six provinces, namely, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Biliran, Samar, Eastern Samar and Northern Samar, from Region 8 for declaring CPP-NPA as persona non grata.

At the barangay level, the DHSUD chief disclosed that 3,395 out of 4,390 barangays, or 77%, had also done the same.

With the cooperation of LGU officials, development projects and economic opportunities were boosted.

According to the housing czar, the 8th Infantry Division has neutralized 71 communists-terrorists (CTs) who were either captured or killed, 2,428 CTs had surrendered, eight child warriors had been rescued and 103 high-powered and 123 low-powered firearms have been recovered since Executive Order No70 was issued and implemented in 2019.

So far, from 11 communist fronts in Eastern Visayas, government security forces have already dismantled seven since the activation of the NTF-ELCAC.

“The remaining CPP-NPA-NDF capability in Region 8 is continuously declining, hence, we are declaring today that our timeline to neutralize and diminish the influence and fighting capability of the communist terrorists is achievable and doable within the President’s term, ” Secretary Del Rosario said.

He likewise lauded government efforts in implementing infrastructure projects across Eastern Visayas, especially the rollout of livelihood and development assistance programs to different barangays courtesy of various government agencies. 

Eastern Visayas is considered previously as communist hotbed and has been deprived of economic gains despite its huge potential due to security issues. (30)— CVC