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If elected, Ka Leody wants NTF-ELCAC scrapped, anti-terrorism law repealed

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If elected, Ka Leody wants NTF-ELCAC scrapped, anti-terrorism law repealed
File photo shows labor leader Leody de Guzman
Leody de Guzman / Twitter

MANILA, Philippines — Labor leader and progressive presidential aspirant Ka Leody de Guzman said he would push for the scrapping of the government's anti-insurgency task force and the Anti-Terrorism Act if elected into office.

Since President Rodrigo Duterte created it through Executive Order No. 70 signed in 2018, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict has repeatedly accused people of links to communist rebels.

Over the coronavirus pandemic, its targets have ranged from activist groups, universities, media organizations, to celebrities. It has also been documented to have spread disinformation, prompting the Presidential Communications Operations Office to review its procedure for vetting ang reposting social media content.

Speaking at the Pandesal Forum sa Veritas on Monday, De Guzman said that the P28.1 billion budget that the Duterte administration proposed for the task force's 2022 budget would instead be reallocated to afford medical frontliners better benefits.

De Guzman's calls are nothing new. Earlier this year, senators called for the task force to be defunded and for its budget — amounting to P19 billion — to be redirected to the government's coronavirus response.

Progressive groups and activists have also long rallied against the Anti-Terrorism Act, which analysts and human rights watchdogs have warned "chills freedom of expression" through what they said is an overbroad definition of terrorism.

The Anti-Terrorism Act faces 37 petitions before the Supreme Court contesting the law's constitutionality and effect on human rights. The SC held oral arguments on the petitions questioning the law but has yet to decide on the pleas.

"I will ask for its revision until it is repealed. It curtails human rights, it's a way to a violent leadership. I am against a violent regime," De Guzman said in Filipino.

De Guzman has not been shy about his plans to reallocate presidential intelligence funds to a COVID-19 Pandemic and Economic Fund to buttress the country's recovery from the world's longest quarantine.

His 25-point program with the Partido Lakas ng Masa also aims to cut the size of the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines by half, along with "radically [raising] recruitment standards [and punishing] all who have engaged in extrajudicial killings."

He also vowed to "turn over President [Rodrigo] Duterte, Sen. [Ronald] Dela Rosa, [Former NTF-ELCAC spokesperson] Gen. Antonio Parlade, and all authors and key enforcers of the war on drugs and the red-tagging campaign" to the International Criminal Court "while also prosecuting them in the national judicial system."

The ICC has authorized an investigation into alleged extrajudicial killings in the Philippines but the government has maintained that the court has no jurisdiction and will not get cooperation from the Duterte administration.

De Guzman said he was also against the death penalty and in favor of a divorce law.

Franco Luna

2022 ELECTIONS LEODY DE GUZMAN NATIONAL TASK FORCE TO END LOCAL COMMUNIST ARMED CONFLICT NTF-ELCAC
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