Karapatan files raps vs anti-communist task force
Meanwhile, Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said the protesters who held a rally in front of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) office to call for the abolition of the administration’s NTF-ELCAC, an anti-communist unit, are barking up the wrong tree.
STAR/Boy Santos/File

Karapatan files raps vs anti-communist task force

Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - December 5, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A group of rights advocates yesterday filed criminal and administrative charges against officials of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) led by its head, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.

In a complaint-affidavit filed before the Office of the Ombudsman, Karapatan alleged that Esperon has repeatedly and persistently tagged the group as well as its officials and members as supporters of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army.

Charged along with Esperon were Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Southern Luzon Command chief; Lorraine Marie Badoy, Presidential Communications Operations Office undersecretary for new media and external affairs; and Margaux “Mocha” Uson, an Overseas Workers Welfare Administration undersecretary.

Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay said the four should be held criminally and administratively liable for acts that malign, vilify and baselessly red-tag her and the group’s officers and members.

According to her, the red-tagging of activists and progressive groups led to the killings of human rights defenders, enforced disappearances, illegal arrests and detention, torture, criminalization of their jobs and advocacies and other defilements of their civil and political rights.

“I and other national officers of Karapatan, Gabriela and the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines also filed a petition for Writ of Amparo and Habeas Data before the Supreme Court in May 2019 because we have been the subject of vicious and unrelenting attacks by respondent Parlade, including President Duterte himself, in speeches delivered in several public gatherings since 2017. In addition, I was also the subject of attacks as a human rights worker,” Palabay stated in the complaint.

Karapatan cited at least two instances when they were allegedly identified as a terrorist front organization. These, they added, violated the principle of distinction under international and domestic humanitarian law.

They also said that the four are liable under Republic Act 9851 or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and Other Crimes Against Humanity.

“This crime against humanity is committed when there is persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender, sexual orientation or other grounds, committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population,” the complaint added.

Palabay claimed that the four “acted with manifest partiality and evident bad faith when they recklessly engaged in red-tagging me and Karapatan publicly, absent any competent, admissible, much less credible evidence to prove their claims.”

Meanwhile, Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said the protesters who held a rally in front of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) office to call for the abolition of the administration’s NTF-ELCAC, an anti-communist unit, are barking up the wrong tree.

Malaya, the DILG spokesman, said the protest “amounts to nothing” as this should have been done before the courts or by asking Congress to defund the organization.

“The DILG respects their right to express their sentiments, however, they are barking up the wrong tree and they are causing traffic along EDSA and are bothering the employees of the DILG who are at the forefront of the COVID-19 response,” he said in a text message. – Romina Cabrera

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