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“We are in the middle of a global health crisis; we are faced with a difficult situation but this does not mean that we will be paralyzed into inaction. The pandemic gives us more reasons to perform better.”

This was the statement of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Cordillera regional director Marlo Iringan on why inter-agency convergence should carry on amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

On June 19, the Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary and Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security (CORDS) for the Cordillera Dr. William Dar presided over the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) in a joint meeting with Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) which was presided over by Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong at the Baguio Country Club.

“In spite of the crisis, we see the accomplishments of the regional task force as very significant. We would like a win-win solution [in ending armed conflict] because we are all Filipinos here. We will continue to win their hearts,” said Sec. Dar when asked on the performance of the Cordillera RTF-ELCAC.

One item in the agenda during the joint meeting was the presentation of accomplishments of the ELCAC’s twelve (12) clusters for the 49 priority barangays, and plans for the remaining months of the year.

The DILG presented the accomplishment of five (5) clusters: Local Government Empowerment; Sectoral Unification, Capacity-building, and Empowerment; Basic Services; Localized Peace Engagement; and Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP) and Amnesty.

Aside from the formulation and implementation of policies and plans, Dir. Iringan reported some significant accomplishments of the DILG-led clusters – resolution declaring over 600 CPP-NPA-NDF as persona non-grata in different LGUs, provision of benefits and other assistance to former rebels amounting to almost three (3) million pesos, more than eight (8) million-peso worth of sustainable livelihood programs, infrastructure projects, education, among many others.

Also to share his perspective on anti-insurgency is Sadanga, Mt. Province Mayor Gabino Ganggangan who said firmly, “It is time for the real representatives of the people, the elected local leaders to speak up. There is a need to address this problem. So my question to every LGU, where are you in this war? Make a stand because we are trying to win two battles here – COVID19 and armed conflict.”

As the chairperson of the Cordillera RPOC, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong presided the second part meeting where member agencies presented updates on peace and order, security, drug situations, and apprehended forest products and conveyances. Anti-rape framework and information, education campaign was also tackled.

“I am really glad that we continue to really work hard and work closely with RTF-ELCAC. Amidst the pandemic, our forces were still able to deliver what is expected of them so far as the campaign against communist terrorism is concerned,” said Mayor Magalong.

Both RTF-ELCAC and RPOC renewed and toughened their commitments to further enhance their frameworks while embracing the new normal the pandemic has brought. ###

"Matino, Mahusay at Maaasahan"