President Rodrigo Roa Duterte vowed to usher more development projects in the countryside to end local communist armed conflict, and reduce drugs, crime, and corruption.

In his message delivered during the joint meeting of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and its Region X counterpart on Friday, 5 March 2021 at the University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines in Cagayan de Oro City, the President renewed his priority to help former rebels and sustain local peace talks.

“This is my request from you: to go down here so we can talk. Do you want us to talk in the mountains? I will be go up there,” the President said.

National Security Adviser, Secretary Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. and Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security for Northern Mindanao (CORDS-X) Secretary Jose Ruperto Martin Andanar joined the President in his first ELCAC regional sortie to launch the Barangay Development Program (BDP).

Secretary Esperon, the concurrent NTF-ELCAC Vice Chairperson, said that the BDP consists of a package of programs that aim to reduce poverty and bring development in red-free barangays.

Meanwhile, Secretary Andanar lauded the region’s ELCAC accomplishments and trailblazing efforts for inclusive development and sustainable peace, such as the region’s banner program known as the Convergence Areas for Peace and Development (CAPDev).

“Region X (Northern Mindanao) takes pride of its contributions to ELCAC despite the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Andanar said. During the event, the participants also witnessed the turn-over of programs and projects to Region X’s focus barangays, and testimonies of local leaders of communities, which received various development interventions from the government.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, delivers his speech during the Joint NTF-RTF ELCAC X Meeting last 5 March 2021. Photo by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO)