By Mike Crismundo
BUTUAN CITY – The Philippine Army and religious sector should continue and strengthen its unified partnership in putting an end to the decades-old Communist insurgency, and help in the implementation of the government’s “Whole of Nation Approach” to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC).
Brigadier General Lincoln Francisco T. Tagle, commanding general of the AFPs Special Forces Regiment, made this statement during a courtesy call with the Diocese of Butuan Most Rev. Cosme Damian R. Almedilla, D.D. at the Bishops Palace here recently.
He said there was a need to have a continuing partnership with the religious sector to achieve peace and development.
“We really need to have a unified and continuing partnership with the religious sector because they are the subject matter experts in promoting reconciliation which can help induce more peaceful surrenders (CPP-NPA) in the future,” said the Special Forces Regiment commander.
Tagle was accompanied by the command group of the Army’s ThirdSpecial Forces (Arrowhead) Battalion (3rd SFBn) in the courtesy call to Almedilla.
The Army commanders in the area have been alarmed through the revelations of former rebels that some religious groups in Lianga town, Surigao del Sur were the ones backing Communist New People’s Army Terrorists (CNTs)-affiliated militant and anti-government groups.
The (Army commanders told Almedilla during their courtesy call that some of these militant groups were trying to stop the Community Support Program (CSP) teams of the government security forces and the implementation of ELCAC in the area.
The AFP Special Forces Regiment commander also said the church should be protected from the Communist movement.
“The Church and other religious groups should also be protected from the deceptive tactics of the Communist NPA Terrorists (CNTs) who are taking undue advantage on the kind-heartedness of our religious leaders,” stressed Tagle.
Meanwhile, Almedilla reminded the diocesan and missionary religious groups on the teachings of the Lord on reconciliation to attain genuine peace and encouraged them to focus on ministering faith and not an ideology.
“We need a new expression of solidarity and this should not be related to the communist ideology, “the prelate stressed.
Sectoral Unification Cluster is one of features of the Task Force on Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict that promotes a strong multi-sectoral cooperation to address and eliminate the infiltration strategies of communist groups that corrupt the purity of various sectors such as the Indigenous Peoples, religious, youth, academic sectors and the like.