NTF-ELCAC won’t be abolished, says Marcos

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — President Marcos yesterday rejected calls to abolish the government’s anti-insurgency task force, saying it has lessened the security risks posed by communist rebels and has provided assistance to those who abandoned the armed struggle.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Karapatan have asked Marcos to scrap the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) after the Supreme Court ruled that red-baiting, known in the Philippines as “red-tagging,” vilification, labelling and guilt by association threaten a person’s right to life, liberty, or security.

HRW described the NTF-ELCAC as “abusive” and accused the task force of promoting the practice of red-baiting. Karapatan, meanwhile, claimed that the anti-insurgency task force has engaged in “rampant and unmitigated fabrication of lies” to quell dissent and has “driven the rampant and unmitigated attacks on individuals and organizations.”
But Marcos believes there is no reason to terminate the NTF-ELCAC, which was formed through Executive Order No. 70 signed by former president Rodrigo Duterte in 2018.
“The people who used to clash with the government, instead of fighting with them, we are helping them and it had a huge effect on reducing internal security threat. That is because of the NTF-ELCAC,” the President said.
“The fastest answer to that is no, we will not abolish the NTF-ELCAC. We are going to finish (its activities) because a few barangays have yet to be covered. Some returnees have yet to receive help,” he added.

Marcos said the government still needs the task force, noting that the government promised aid to former insurgents.
In an earlier statement, the National Security Council said that the NTF-ELCAC has been a “game changer” in the fight against the communist rebels.
“Because of the NTF, the NPA (New People’s Army) has been strategically defeated with its last remaining nine weakened guerrilla fronts with around 1,000 remaining armed members scattered in remote areas. Peace is finally within our reach,” the council said.

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