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VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Rodrigo Duterte’s statement on NTF-ELCAC NEEDS CONTEXT

WHAT WAS CLAIMED

The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict is a “very successful” endeavor of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in reducing the numbers of the New People’s Army and the Communist Party of the Philippines.

OUR VERDICT

Needs context:

The NTF-ELCAC is a multi-agency body created through Executive Order 70, which Duterte signed in 2018, under the Office of the President, not the AFP. The AFP chief of staff is one of at least 20 members of the task force, which was intended to implement the government’s “whole of nation” approach in addressing the root causes of insurgencies.

Nov 29, 2023

VERA Files

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Former president Rodrigo Duterte has claimed that the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) was a “very successful” initiative of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in reducing the number of communist insurgents.

This needs context.

STATEMENT

In the Nov. 20 episode of his weekly talk show Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa aired on Sonshine Media Network International, Duterte boasted of the achievements of the NTF-ELCAC:

“If there was one program of the AFP [that] was really a successful endeavor in cutting down the numbers of the NPAs and the Communist Party of the Philippines—for that matter, [it] was the ELCAC. It was very successful.”

Source: Sonshine Media, ‘Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa’ kasama si dating Pang. Rodrigo Roa Duterte | November 20, 2023, Nov. 20, 2023, watch from 9:54 to 10:16

FACT

The NTF-ELCAC is a multi-agency body created through Executive Order No. 70, which Duterte signed on Dec. 4, 2018, under the Office of the President, not the AFP. The AFP Chief of Staff, however, is one of at least 20 members of the task force. 

VERA Files Fact Check: Former president Rodrigo Duterte has claimed that the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict was a “very successful” initiative of the AFP in reducing the number of communist insurgents. This needs context.

The task force was intended to implement the government’s “whole of nation” approach in addressing the root causes of insurgencies.

In an April 24 interview on The Chiefs on ONE News PH, National Security Council (NSC) Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya said about the status of the armed struggle:

“It is in its dying stages now. Kasi, based on the latest data we have, out of the 89 guerrilla fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), 67 have been dismantled since 2018. So in 2018, apat; 2019, 13; 2020, 10; 2021, 21 and 2022, 19. So, what we have now is, we have 22 remaining guerrilla fronts all over the country but 18 of these have been severely weakened by focused military operations and the combined efforts of the National Task Force ELCAC and we only have four active guerrilla fronts in the country.”

Source: One News PH, THE CHIEFS | April 24, 2023, April 24, 2023, watch from 6:50 to 7:30

The NSC updated Malaya’s statement on May 6:

“75% of all NPA guerilla fronts have been dismantled. Only 22 of the original 89 fronts are still existing. Of the 22 left, 20 are weakened and the remaining 2 are the subject of military operations and development efforts by NTF ELCAC agencies.”

Source: National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict official Facebook account, “NO PLANS TO DISMANTLE NTF ELCAC. President Marcos firmly committed to ending Communist terrorism in the country through whole-of-nation approach. Let’s work together towards total victory over Communist terrorism.”, May 6, 2023

Under EO 70, the NTF-ELCAC’s mandate is to:

“…prioritize and harmonize the delivery of basic services and social development packages in conflict-affected areas and vulnerable communities, facilitate societal inclusivity and ensure active participation of all sectors of society in the pursuit of the country’s peace agenda.”

Source: Official Gazette of the Philippines, Executive Order No. 70, s. 2018, Accessed Nov. 21, 2023

Duterte bragged about the NTF-ELCAC on the heels of the decision of Congress to remove the proposed confidential funds of civilian agencies, including the Office of the Vice President, in the 2024 budget.

He earlier said his daughter, Vice President Sara Duterte who is co-vice chair of NTF-ELCAC, intended to use the confidential funds she was asking from Congress against communists.

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Sources

One News PH, THE CHIEFS | April 24, 2023, April 24, 2023

National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict official Facebook account, “NO PLANS TO DISMANTLE NTF ELCAC. President Marcos firmly committed to ending Communist terrorism in the country through whole-of-nation approach. Let’s work together towards total victory over Communist terrorism.”, May 6, 2023

Official Gazette of the Philippines, Executive Order No. 70, s. 2018, Accessed Nov. 21, 2023

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)

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