“Duterte issues EO for military to end insurgency”, (Nonoy E. Lacson, Manila Bulletin, June 22, 2019).
PER news item, “The Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Mindanao Command (AFP-West Min.Com) said Friday that President Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order (EO) No. 70, providing for the creation of a national task force and the adoption of a national peace framework to end local communist based armed conflict in the country. The said framework will be “anchored on the whole of nation approach to address insurgency”. It “pushes for inter-agency convergence and addresses insurgency through sector participation and peaceful mechanisms complementing units and national agencies.”
According to Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, West. Min.Com. Chief, “synchronizing all efforts in an effective mechanism to combat insurgency.” He added: “The framework is there to ensure that counter-insurgency actions reflect the local governments’ approach and a unified and inclusive solution is employed to resolve insurgency.” It is what they called “Whole-of-Nation” strategy.
Based on the feedback we got, our national government is now abandoning Peace Talks with the Central Committee of the National Democratic Front (NDF) being held abroad. This strategy to resolve our insurgency problem is found unproductive by the Duterte administration. Said peace talks, per info, were only used by the insurgents to strengthen their forces. Hence, this E.O. No. 70 is a more innovative way to end our longest insurgency in the whole world. We see this as a comprehensive and integrated developmental approach of bringing the government closer to our far-flung barangays. The prospect of success in putting an end to our insurgency problem, we think, is much greater now. We give our “thumbs up” to President Duterte for E.O. No.70.
When I was still a young man, some well-meaning people have been saying that our insurgency problem cannot be solved by purely military solution but must be coupled with civic actions. This simply means that government services and development projects must reach our far-flung communities. This is what E.O. No. 70 seems all about. “Huli man daw at magaling maihahabol din.”
Some of the development programs we like to see in our far flung barangays are: 1) Emergency employment through the building of farm-to market roads using labor-intensive method; 2) Roving health services; 3) Reforestation projects of fast growing trees and bamboos, 4) Plantation of fast growing trees suited for charcoal making 5) Rural industrialization, 6) Strategically located elementary schools, 7) Liverstocks dispersal 8) Installation of locally made solar lighting system, etc. Widespread poverty in these neglected areas, no doubt is the root cause of conflict therein. This would mean allocating more government funds to insurgency-infested barangays for rural development. It is about time that economic planners seriously consider peace as good.
Return of Investment (ROI). We are happy that Region X took the lead in the implementation of E.O. No. 70. Rhoda Grace B. Saron (Mindanao Times) reported recently that “Super Body” was created to synchronize and harmonize government efforts against the New People’s Army in Northern Mindanao” last June 28 at Malaybalay City in Bukidnon. The “Super Body” was jointly composed of Region X Regional Development Council – Regional Peace and Order Council “to address the root cause of conflict, internal disturbance, and other forms of violence and armed threats through sustained delivery of basic services and social development packages”. Very good we would say.
Obviously, a teamwork of Military – Local Government Units is a more innovative approach to development and peace in our different regions. Mayor Oscar Moreno, per news report, emphasized the LGU’s commitment to do their “job and role in ending insurgency in Northern Mindanao.” On the other hand Maj. Gen. Nemesio Gacal of the 4th ID command said that “this is an opportunity for all of us to move swiftly and effectively towards our collective goal of attaining lasting, inclusive and sustainable peace and development.”
The root cause of insurgency is poverty. The root cause of poverty is corruption in the government. Clearly then, E.O. No. 70 can be more effective, if concomitantly the Duterte administration will put more political will and teeth in its anti-corruption campaign. Unfortunately, this is not happening and therefore will adversely affect the efficacy of E.O. No. 70 that needs badly more resources to succeed. The link between corruption in the government, widespread poverty especially in our countryside and insurgency in the country becomes obvious.