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Marcos rejects calls to abolish NTF-ELCAC

MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Thursday rejected calls to abolish the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), saying the task force has done a good job cutting down «internal security threats.»

The President issued the statement after the Supreme Court ruled that red-tagging was a threat to people's lives, liberty and security.

In a media interview in Cagayan de Oro City, the President said that government officials were not engaging in red-tagging activities.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. attends the National Higher Education Day Summit 2024 at the Philippine International Convention Center, Pasay City on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. With him were Sen. Francis Escudero, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, Commission on Higher Education Chairman Prospero E. De Vera III and Rep. Marquez Go. PHOTOS BY RENE H. DILAN

«Why do you always ask me that? There's no reason for us to abolish it. What's being said is because there's allegedly red-tagging going on,» Marcos told reporters

«The government does not do that, but other people. Quite the opposite,» he added.

Marcos said the task force still has goals to fulfill, noting that there were still some villages that have not been freed from communist influence.


«We have to finish this because there are still villages which have not been cleared of rebels. There are still returnees that have not been given assistance,» he said.

Human rights organizations earlier called on Marcos to end the practice of red-tagging and abolish the NTF-ELCAC for vilifying activists and critics as fighters or supporters of the country's communist insurgency.

Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said that red-tagging has «long threatened the lives, security and liberty of scores of human rights activists, political dissenters and ordinary Filipinos—many of them have been victims of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, illegal or arbitrary arrests and detention, and many other forms of grave human rights violations.»

In its 39-page decision, the Supreme Court stressed that being associated with communists makes a red-tagged person a target of