Esperon: Economic devt, security are linked

Achieving and sustaining economic development may be an uphill battle unless the country’s security problem is addressed, National Security Adviser Hermogenes C. Esperon Jr. said, noting that economic growth and national security are closely linked.

“Economic development and security are inextricably linked and are mutually reinforcing concept. Therefore, armed conflict is undoubtedly a development issue,” Esperon said last week during a security forum.

“Armed conflict remains a deep-seated problem in the country and poses a detrimental effect on the socioeconomic realities confronting the Filipino people,” he added.

Esperon said the problems of terrorism and insurgency posed by lawless Moro groups in Mindanao and the New People’s Army (NPA) were undermining the efforts of the Duterte administration to build a strong economy that is capable of sustaining “Filipino livelihood and national endeavors.”

He added the “communist rebellion” being waged by the NPA and the Communist Party of the Philippines has taken an “estimated 30,000 lives since the 1960s.”

Esperon said that the rebel group is also undermining business in Mindanao through its forced collection of so-called revolutionary taxes.

“Our intelligence sources show that the NPA is earning up to P1 billion from money extorted through revolutionary taxes from agricultural and mining companies in Eastern Mindanao alone,” he said.

On the other hand, extremist groups, such as the Abu Sayyaf Group, the Ansar-Khilafah Philippines, Maute Group and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters “have the capacity” to inflict violent attacks, such as the Marawi City rebellion.

“As a result, social, political and economic institutions can be destabilized,” the national security adviser said.

He added that as shown by the Marawi rebellion, the threat of violent extremism and radicalization affects political and economic stability.

President Duterte’s chief security adviser said that while inclusive growth necessitates that the government builds and capacitates national and local political institutions to “better implement the rule of law” and to provide a conducive environment for investors to do business in the country, this effort is being stymied by security concerns.

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