Duterte: Gov't shifts to 'civilian-led approach' in fight vs. communists

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 11) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said government is now shifting to a so-called "civilian-led approach" in its fight against communist insurgents and deal with the "root cause" of communism in the country.

"From the military-centric approach that gave us our recent successes against the communist movement, we now shift to a new civilian-led approach that will tap other government agencies and other private sector in bringing basic services and other development interventions that will address the root cause of the communist movement," he said. in a speech at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) change of command ceremony in Quezon City .

This shift is in line with Executive Order (EO) No. 70, which the President signed on December 4. His directive requires the creation of a national task force headed by the President and vice-chaired by the National Security Adviser to end local communist armed conflict.

Among the members of the task force are the secretaries of national defense, public works and highways, budget and management, agrarian reform, social welfare and development, and two private sector representatives, among others.

The order also institutionalizes the "whole-of-nation" approach, as agreed upon by the world leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in their previous joint communiques, in combating extremism and terrorism.

According to the EO, the whole-of-nation approach addresses the root causes of insurgencies, internal disturbances and tensions, and other armed conflicts and threats by prioritizing and harmonizing the delivery of basic services and social development packages in areas that need them the most. These will be included in the National Peace Framework, the order said.

In his speech, Duterte said Lieutenant General Benjamin Madrigal, the new AFP chief is now tasked "with the responsibility of preserving peace and ensuring order as we shift to this new approach."

Duterte pushed for localized peace talks with communist rebels, but the Communist Party of the Philippines rejected this idea.

READ: CPP rejects localized peace talks, says Duterte 'pretending to want peace'

The President walked away from peace negotiations in November 2017 after both parties accused each other of violating their respective unilateral ceasefire declarations.