Rep. Lucy: Peace program is the only alternative to war | Inquirer Opinion
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SHARP EDGES

Rep. Lucy: Peace program is the only alternative to war

04:00 AM June 15, 2021

​After 11 years in Congress, Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez , a beautiful poster girl from Ormoc City, Leyte, and married to an actor-politician, has now blossomed into a deep-thinking stateswoman with a pragmatic grasp of rural grassroots.

​In a recent ANC interview with broadcaster Karen Davila, I was amazed at how Rep. Gomez expounded on the government’s peace program, National Task force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), which she says, promotes peace and development of barangays against the only previous alternative of war.

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Here are some of her quotable quotes.

“If you remember, the reason why the NPAs or the insurgents are able to recruit is because they prey on undeveloped barangays. They tell the people, government has forgotten them and, not for them. This program is the best way to debunk that campaign. By showing the people that when a barangay is cleared from rebels, that area can be developed and the people can have a decent way of life”.

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“This is the first time government addresses insurgency with an actual action plan. The funding is in the CAA. In Leyte, which is really the haven of insurgents, the different municipalities and cities have benefited from this program“. Every barangay cleared stands to receive P20M in development fund, that’s P12M for farm to market roads, P3M for schoolbuildings, P2M for health and sanitation services and P1.5M for a barangay health center. This is on top of the regular funding from DepEd, DPWH, or from Governor or the Mayor”.

“A rebel returnee is given a second chance of life being integrated back into society. They’re actually giving him livelihood, housing, education, really making him a productive member of society again”. That’s on the personal level, on the individual level”.

​I emphatize with this, having lived for several months in a remote barangay in my father’s hometown, Mercedes, in then rebel-infested Eastern Samar. The general feeling there really are questions, e.g, does the government exist? No health services, few and far schools, lack of livelihood and undeveloped roads. Everybody there thinks “to each his own” and “hand to mouth existence”.

Considering these, a P20-million yearly funding from government to promote peace, progress and livelihood for every rebel-cleared barangay becomes both very necessary and timely.

​On legislators against red-tagging, Rep Torres-Gomez commented she is in favor of criminalizing red-tagging and its serious implications on a person’s life and reputation. She says government has a bad name because there is lack of accountability.

“Any person, even private citizens are accountable for our actions. And as we try to punish General Antonio Parlade, NTF-ELCAC spokesman, and I believe he deserves to be, there has to be some accountability”.
​Rep. Torres-Gomez further said, “But it should not be at the expense of a program that has been working and is actually addressing a problem that has been brewing and simmering for over 50 years, what is the alternative really for our soldiers on going after the insurgents and we are all Filipinos fighting against Filipinos”.

​In that ANC interview, Rep. Torres-Gomez also articulated brilliantly her positions on the West Philippine Sea and Chinese bullying. I’m amazed at her knowledge of the arbitral ruling and geopolitics , shunning calls for aggression on the issues. “In terms of Vietnam, nanindigan sila but was it enough for China to leave their EEZ?”

True words of wisdom from an “iron lady legislator”. I remember she did not join the bandwagon in two previous coups in the House of Representatives, and one of the handfuls who stayed with the outgoing speaker. A rare breed who remains loyal to her word of honor.

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TAGS: Jake J. Maderazo, Lucy Torres-Gomez, opinion, peace, Sharp Edges
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