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Bato, Remulla slam rapporteur’s call to scrap NTF-ELCAC

MANILA, Philippines — UN Special Rapporteur Ian Fry was apparently misinformed when he called for the abolition of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa has said.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla also said the United Nations rapporteur should not tell the Philippine government what to do with the NTF-ELCAC, asserting the government’s independence in solving its problems.

“That is an internal mechanism of our government. They should not interfere with it. They should not interfere with how we run our government,” Remulla said in a press briefing.

During the Senate’s plenary deliberations on the budget of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity, Dela Rosa called the Senate’s attention to the rapporteur’s proposal to abolish the controversial anti-communist task force.

Dela Rosa refuted the rapporteur’s recommendations, describing the NTF-ELCAC as a task force meant for “good governance and delivery of basic services to the communities.”

“They are not involved in armed confrontation with the enemies of the state. Why are they lambasting the NTF-ELCAC? Maybe they are being fed with wrong information,” Dela Rosa said during the Senate plenary session Wednesday.

Dela Rosa, who was sponsoring the agency’s budget, said the OPAPRU was not involved in the preparations for the UN expert’s visit.

“Had they been involved, for sure, that foreigner will have different views about the NTF-ELCAC. They will be informed accordingly,” said Dela Rosa, the police chief during the previous administration when the anti-communist task force was first created.

Sen. Francis Tolentino, another ally of the Duterte administration, agreed with Dela Rosa that the UN expert was not only misinformed, but was also meddling with how the Philippines is dealing with the communist insurgency, said to be the longest-running in Asia.

Tolentino called Fry a “foreigner… (with a) seemingly intrusive mis-observance… delving into our affairs and as to how we should end communist insurgency.”

The senator also questioned the UN rapporteur’s views about the anti-communist task force when its UN expertise