In cognizance of the important roles of barangays in ending and preventing insurgency at the local level, the Regional Task Force to End Local Communists Armed Conflict 1 (RTF-ELCAC 1) conducted barangay levelling sessions in Ilocos Norte (May 24, 2021), Ilocos Sur (May 25, 2021), La Union (May 27, 2021), and Pangasinan (May 28, 2021) via Zoom. The barangay levelling sessions were conducted to strengthen the collaboration of the RTF-ELCAC 1 with the barangays in the region in carrying out the Whole-of-Nation Approach (WNA) in addressing peace and security concerns pursuant to Executive Order No. 70, series of 2018.
There were around 3,400 participants from 1,429 barangays in the region who participated in the barangay leveling sessions broken down as follows: Ilocos Norte – 348 (179 barangays), Ilocos Sur – 988 (392 barangays), La Union – 1,165 (407 barangays), and Pangasinan – 889 (451 barangays). The participants include barangay captains, barangay kagawads, and Sangguniang Kabataan representatives.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Regional Director James F. Fadrilan provided the overview of the activity highlighting how the LGUs can contribute in eradicating insurgency in the region. Meanwhile, the four governors signified their support to the RTF-ELCAC through their provision of socio-economic development programs to their respective barangays.
The participants were oriented on the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) framework and CTG problems. They were encouraged to be vigilant in protecting the youths against the recruitment of the CTGs. The updates on the peace and security situation of Region 1 and its provinces were also presented by the Philippine National Police. The various efforts of the Philippine Army in clearing focus barangays under the influence of the CTGs were likewise shared to the participants.
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) presented the major accomplishments of the RTF-ELCAC 1 and its ways forward to sustain the efforts of the task force in ending local communist armed conflict in the region. Likewise, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), representing the 12 Lines of Efforts (LoEs) of the RTF-ELCAC, informed the participants on the various programs, projects, and activities that could be availed by the LGUs which include livelihood programs, training programs, and financial assistance. In addition, the DILG presented the peace and development issues and concerns, and the recommendations to address them based on the results of the Regional Consultation for Peace and Development and the Support to the Barangay Development Program (BDP). Meanwhile, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) presented the profile of indigenous cultural communities (ICC) and indigenous peoples (IP) in the provinces and the building blocks of a resilient, responsive, and relevant ICC/IPs ancestral domains. The provincial task forces also presented their significant accomplishments and ways forward.
Sec. Hermogenes C. Esperon, Jr., Chairperson of the RTF-ELCAC 1, emphasized the important roles of the barangay officials in ending local communist armed conflict. He stressed that good governance is the major component in carrying out the Whole-of-Nation Approach. He urged everyone to work together to ensure that CTGs would never regain their strength in the region.
Dir. Jennilyn C. Role of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), head of the Strategic Communication cluster who served as host of the four barangay levelling sessions, also encouraged the participants to disseminate the information they gained from the levelling sessions to their families, friends, and colleagues. She said that disseminating the right and correct information is one way to counter the propaganda of the CTGs.