October 1, 2023

In the past few months, consultations and activities under the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict or NTF-Elcac were launched one after another in several municipalities and barangays in Mountain Province.
Within the said consultations where “people’s issues were tackled” and task forces were formed, there were also medical and dental missions, workshops and seminars, and promises of delivery of services in Elcac areas, or those said to be “strongly influenced” by the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army.
There is nothing new here. It is just another one of the many repressive and deceptive tactics of the reactionary State and its armed force to cow the people’s struggle into submission. No matter how they try to make it seem new, legitimate, and humane (“Enhancing Local Community to Accelerate Change”), we cannot treat as separate Elcac from Duterte’s bloody all-out war.
While Elcac LCAC was unleashing its claws in Mountain Province, the government forces have launched large-scale combat operations in the province and neighboring localities. The State on one hand is pouring projects and services; on the other, its armed force is complicit in widespread intelligence operations, psychological warfare, harassment, abuse, and human rights violations.
From September to December, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police’s disinformation, encampment inside the ili (village), drone and recon plane operations, indiscriminate firing and bombing has sown widespread fear among and caused disturbance to the livelihood of the people.
Elcac will fail to end the armed conflict in Mountain Province, in Cordillera, or anywhere else in the Philippines because the oppression of the people remains. In truth, the struggle of the people of Mountain Province will only grow stronger due to the deception and repression of Elcac and the giant, destructive projects in energy and mining that it represents.
Elcsc only aggravates the national oppression of the Kaigorotan. The State has long ignored and even violated the Cordillera people’s right to ancestral domain and to self-determination. No amount of riches from these companies can compensate for their plundering of the Kaigorotan’s ancestral lands and resources.
No amount of medical and dental missions, seminars and workshops can make up for the widespread and long-term dangers and damages caused by the said projects – all while basic needs like genuine land reform and national industry are neglected.
If Duterte and agents of the reactionary State truly desire to “end the armed conflict,” they should heed the people’s call – for basic needs and social services; for the self-determination of the Kaigorotan and other national minorities; for peace based on justice. — CORDILLERA PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC FRONT, Mountain Province