UN special rapporteur proposes abolition of NTF-ELCAC

Michael Punongbayan, Bella Cariaso - The Philippine Star
UN special rapporteur proposes abolition of NTF-ELCAC
In this file photo taken on Aug. 1, 2022, the United Nations headquarters is seen in New York City. After four inconclusive sessions, UN member states on August 15, 2022, resumed talks aimed at finally completing a treaty to protect the world's high seas, a vital yet fragile resource that covers nearly half the planet.
AFP / Daniel Slim

MANILA, Philippines —  United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change Ian Fry yesterday recommended to the government the abolition of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, adding that a full and independent probe is needed to look into past operations of the NTF-ELCAC.

At a press conference, Fry disclosed the results of his 10-day mission in the Philippines, which started on Nov. 6.

“I met with civil organizations who told me horrific stories on how they were treated, and in my recommendation to the government, I have suggested that they disband the ELCAC because it is clear that ELCAC is operating beyond its original mandate and its red-tagging on the people in the community and the indigenous people and that private financial interest are driving ELCAC to do this,” he said.

Fry added that NTF-ELCAC is operating with impunity and that another body should be created to replace it.

“I heard of cases of torture, disappearance and extrajudicial killings of people. This is totally unacceptable and it seems the government has lost control of some of its military organizations and is moving beyond what is considerably reasonable,” the UN special rapporteur said.

“I suggested to the government to establish a truth and reconciliation process to deal with the harm that has been caused by the military to members of the community,” he added.
At the same time, Fry said the government should also repeal the Anti-Terrorism Act and develop a truth and reconciliation process to allow people wrongly accused to seek redress by the misuse of the law.

Fry said he would submit a formal report to the Human Rights Council on June 2024.

Among the recommendations of Fry to the government are the proposed inquiry by the Commission on Human rights on red-tagging; and a major judicial inquiry to review all cases against environmental human rights defenders who have been prosecuted as a result of allegations made by the military.

He also pushed for major reforms to the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples to ensure that it protects indigenous peoples’ rights and serves the interest of indigenous peoples.


National Security Adviser Eduardo Año frowned yesterday at Fry’s reported call for the abolition of the NTF-ELCAC, saying that “such recommendations were based on incomplete data.”

“Fry, in his capacity as a UNSR on a country visit, has been given the freedom to move and inquire on matters related to his mandate. But apparently, due to reasons beyond us, he has not exercised this to its full potential. In the interest of fairness and justice, he should have raised his concerns with us to ensure that he has full appreciation of the body’s mandate, operations, and overall directions. Sadly, even if he had issues on the NTF-ELCAC that are relevant to his report, he did not find time to do so,” Año said in a statement.Año said the inter-agency body wishes to assure the visiting UNSR that the NTF-ELCAC “is a working and effective human rights mechanism founded on the principles of good and inclusive governance and we could have helped him define it in his study.”

He noted that NTF-ELCAC could have specifically provided valuable inputs on how it has brought peace and development in far-flung communities.

“Therefore, in the absence of this clarificatory engagement with the NTF-ELCAC, Fry’s report must be deemed incomplete. Clarity in context is required to enrich his report and render the same relevant,” Año emphasized.

He said the NTF-ELCAC is extending a dialogue invitation to Fry before he finalizes his report. – Pia Lee-Brago

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