On September 10, 2019, local government chief executives and heads of various regional government offices in Metro Manila, including educational institutions met and formed the National Capital Region Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict or NCR TF-ELCAC. The meeting was held at Summit Hall D of the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City. The participants adopted Joint Regional Development Council and Regional Peace and Order Council in Metro Manila (RDC-RPOC) Resolution No. 1 of 2019 that created the NCR TF-ELCAC.

The resolution was signed by Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar as President Duterte’s assigned head of the National Capital Region Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security (CORDS) and head of the infrastructure cluster of National Capital Region Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

NCR TF-ELCAC was created in accordance with the Executive Order (EO) No. 70 issued by President Rodrigo R. Duterte on December 4, 2018.  EO 70 mandates government civilian agencies and state forces to counter the activities of the “insurgents” through “Whole of Nation Approach in attaining inclusive and sustainable peace.”

The DPWH press release on the event stated that: “The meeting event was organized and attended by Undersecretary Emil K. Sadain as the DPWH alternate head of DPWH ELCAC Special Task Force together with John Dominic Pulido of the office of DPWH Secretary; project directors Sharif Madsmo Hasim, Virgilio Castillo, and Rodrigo delos Reyes of DPWH Unified Project Management Office (UPMO) operations; DPWH NCR director Ador Canlas; UPMO project managers Emmanuel Supe and Sol Abasa of the technical working group; project manager Rogelio Ang; stakeholders relation service director Elizabeth P. Pilorin, and Public-Private Partnership service director Alex Bote.

“Also present are officials of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) NCR; Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA); National Security Council; National Intelligence Coordinating Agency; NTF-ELCAC Secretariat; National Capital Region Police Office chief, Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar; and the AFP-Joint Task Force NCR.”

Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said, “Ang dito ngayon, ‘yung sinasabi nating sentro ng mga front organization nila. So we will focus our effort on countering that, at ipakita sa ating mga kababayan ‘yung reality and how we can convince the public na communism is not the solution para sa improvement, development ng ating bansa.”

[NCR is the center of their front organizations. So we will focus our effort on countering that, showing the people the reality and convincing them that communism is not the solution for the improvement and development of our country.]

Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar heads the RPOC that coordinates maintaining the peace and order situation in the NCR. While MMDA chairman Danilo Lim chairs the Regional Development Council that coordinates and sets the direction of all economic and social development efforts in the region.

Sec. Villar said, “Handling the peace and order in Metro Manila is not only the work of uniformed personnel or state forces but it is also the responsibility of all stakeholders for a peaceful nation. He urged the local government chief executives and heads of various regional government offices in Metro Manila, including educational institutions, “to set commitments and priorities on how to overcome the challenges toward greater peace and prosperity.”

NCR TF-ELCAC “vows to ensure equitable and direct delivery of social services to the poor and marginalized, as well as counter the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army’s recruitment efforts and deceitful propaganda campaign in schools, labor unions, and urban poor sectors in Metro Manila.”

The NCRTF-ELCAC, however, did not mention the protection of human rights of the people in Metro Manila.

Defend the Defenders Network (DDN) in Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela (CAMANAVA) assailed the statement of NCRPO chief Gen. Eleazar: “On the presence of the mass base, we can see the urban poor more in the Camanava area. That’s where they are.”

DDN CAMANAVA cried out: “Huwag gawing warzone ang mga komunidad ng CAMANAVA. Bugbog na ang mga mamamayan nito sa mga paglabag sa karapatang pantao. Umagos ang dugo sa Oplan Tokhang at libu-libo ang naging biktima nito, tapos ngayon nama’y minimilitarisa. Hindi militarisasyon ang solusyon sa kahirapan, bagkus kailangang kilalanin ang karapatan ng mamamayang lumalaban at ugatin ang kahirapan.”

[Don’t make CAMANAVA communities a warzone. Its citizens have been beaten up with human rights violations. Blood shed due to Oplan Tokhang and thousands fell victim to it, and now the area is being militarized. The solution to poverty is not militarization, but rather the need to recognize the people’s right to fight and to root out poverty.]

“Pagpapakita lamang ito na desperado at uhaw na uhaw ang gobyernong ito na supilin ang mamamayang lumalaban. Palagi’t laging kahirapan ang nagtutulak sa mamamayan para lumalaban. Hindi militarisasyon ang solusyon sa kahirapan. Huwag gawing warzone ang CAMANAVA,” DDN-CAMANAVA added.

[It just shows that this government is desperate and thirsty to suppress people who are struggling. It is always poverty that drives the people to fight. The solution to poverty is not militarization. Don’t turn CAMANAVA into a warzone.]

DDN CAMANAVA reported that Major Jeoffrey Braganza of Joint Task Force-National Capital Region (JTF-NCR) of the  Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) lead the state forces in harassing and intimidating leaders of KADAMAY in Caloocan City.

The JTF-NCR is anchored on the Oplan Kalasag, the NCR version of  Oplan Kapanatagan, the Duterte regime’s counter-insurgency program.

Now that the NCRTF-ELCAC was formally organized, will NCR become the Negros Island in terms of massive human rights violations?

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