The National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas reiterates that the fascist and anti-people National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) does not deserve a cent of the people’s money, and revolutionary forces share the growing public opinion that the task force must be immediately defunded. Contrary to recent statements by Matuguinao mayor Aran Boller and Silvino Lobos mayor Leo Jarito, the NTF-ELCAC can never address under-development in the countryside or solve the roots of the armed conflict. The task force is Duterte’s civil-military junta which he uses to destroy his critics by red-tagging, and as milking cow for him and his pet generals and politicos. Its P19-billion budget could be better used for mass testing, vaccine procurement, economic aid for the poor, hazard pay for health workers, and other immediate needs of the people.
The Barangay Development Program (BDP) under the NTF-ELCAC is the military’s pork barrel. The town of Matuguinao is an example of how the BDP can be abused. Not one of its villages were included in the initial list of “beneficiaries” of the BDP in the region, but after Boller colluded with the military for combat-intelligence-psychological warfare operations for several months, 12 barangays are now declared as “cleared” of the NPA and are slated to receive P20 million each. How is this legal? Why does the military get to dictate which barangay should receive additional projects or funding? If local officials refuse to copperate in their counter-insurgency campaign, will they never get funding? The BDP is clearly being used by the military to bribe local officials into cooperation. It violates the supremacy of civilian government over military rule.
If the Duterte regime were to take seriously under-development in the countryside, it would have continued the more productive and meaningful peace talks between the GRP and the NDFP. The people’s issues, agrarian reform among others, could have been put to fore. But the regime sabotaged the negotiations, set up a bogus civilian counter-insurgency task force composed of retired military generals, and waged a relentless, costly and bloody counter-insurgency campaign. State agents killed activists, progressives, critics, and even retired and ailing cadres of the CPP-NPA. Duterte has no intent to address the demands of the peasants for land, of the workers for decent employment and wages, of the youth for education, for health care, for scientific development, and other democratic interests of the people. What he wants is for the rotten semicolonial and semifeudal system to remain, from where he and a few others benefit.
It is the Filipino people who suffer from Duterte giving budget priority to his counter-insurgency campaign instead of the government’s anti-Covid response and meaningful economic aid. More Filipinos are dying not only by getting infected by the virus but even more because of the increasingly overwhelmed public health care system, widespread hunger and irrecoverable loss of livelihood. Duterte is fanning the flames of the people’s hatred as well as the calls for his ouster.
The NDF-EV calls upon the mayors in Samar and other local government officials in the region to join the people in condemning and calling to defund the NTF-ELCAC. We believe there are still local officials who are concerned for the people’s welfare and wish to implement reforms for the benefit of their constituents. They must heed the people’s urgent demands and not cow in the face of threats and intimidation by the military.
They must reject the example set by the butcher mayor Aran Bolller who merely acts as the military’s puppet and is probably feasting his eyes on pocketing at least P240 million of public funds. The people shall hold Boller and his ilk accountable for their banditry and grave abuses.#