peace talks

NTF-ELCAC’s Año welcomes return to peace talks with communist rebels

Bea Cupin

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NTF-ELCAC’s Año welcomes return to peace talks with communist rebels

NATIONAL SECURITY CHIEF. National Security Adviser Eduardo Año is also co-vice chairperson of the NTF-ELCAC.


The National Security Adviser and NTF-ELCAC co-vice chair says even with an agreement to revive peace talks, the military and the police 'will continue with its campaign to defeat all armed threats to the country, including the NPA'

MANILA, Philippines – In direct contrast to his National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) co-vice chair, National Security Adviser Eduardo Año welcomed the joint statement between the Philippine government and the National National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) on the resumption of peace negotiations.

In a statement released by the National Security Council (NSC), Año insisted that the NTF-ELCAC, which he co-vice chairs with Vice President Sara Duterte, “will not relent in defending citizens from the thread of communist terrorist groups” even as he “welcomed” the agreement signed in Oslo, Norway, back in November 23.

Año issued the statement a day after the Vice President described the joint communique with the NDFP as “an agreement with the devil” and urged President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to “review” not only the resumption of peace negotiations but also his presidential proclamations granting amnesty to communist rebels.

 “The NTF-ELCAC will sustain gains and further advance the delivery of basic services, access to livelihood opportunities and complete the infrastructure development projects in isolated, conflict affected communities,” Año said.

Año, who served as military chief and interior secretary during the Rodrigo Duterte administration, said the military and police will build on the operational gains of the anti-insurgency campaign.

“The Armed Forces of the Philippines and PNP will continue with its campaign to defeat all armed threats to the country, including the NPA. They will continue to sustain its operational tempo to further weaken the NPA’s capacity to sow violence in their last remaining influenced communities,” he added.

Days prior, Duterte, who was named co-chair of the notorious task force in May, said she disagreed with the Marcos government’s decision to resume peace talks involving the longest-running communist insurgency in Asia.

The November 23 joint statement, announced on November 28, is but the beginning of what would be a long peace process. Thus far, the communique only means that the two parties – the Philippine government and the NDFP, the political wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) – have agreed that talks would take place.

No other agreements have been made, and the Philippine military has been tasked to continue operations against the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the CPP.

‘Weakened guerilla fronts’

According to Año, there were only 20 “remaining weakened guerilla fronts.”

“We cannot and will not stop pursuing peace. We do not seek to stamp out our fellow Filipinos who have been duped into committing terroristic acts by false ideology, but rather aim to lift them up to work with them hand in hand as brothers and sisters in national building,” he said.

Marcos earlier issued four amnesty proclamations including Proclamation 403 for members of the Rebolusyonaryong Partido Manggagawa ng Pilipinas/ Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPMP-RPA-ABB), and Proclamation 404 for former members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) or their front organizations.

Then-president Rodrigo Duterte created the NTF-ELCAC on December 4, 2018, over a year after he terminated peace talks with the NDFP.

The task force was created to “address causes of armed conflict with communists at the local level” and to facilitate “localized peace talks with communist groups.” It is chaired by the President himself.

But through the years, NTF-ELCAC, became more synonymous to red-tagging from no less than officials at the national level. Vice President Duterte, who is also education chief, has red-tagged her critics, too. –

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.