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NSC rejects NTF-ELCAC abolition

MANILA, Philippines — The National Security Council (NSC) yesterday rejected calls for the abolition of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), saying the calls are unfounded.

NSC assistant director general Jonathan Malaya defended the NTF-ELCAC, saying it has been a “game changer” in the battle against the New People’s Army (NPA) and its allied and front organizations.

“Because of the NTF, the NPA 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,” Malaya said in a statement.

He added that leftist groups have been adamant in their call for the NTF ELCAC’s abolition because the government is well on its way to achieving complete victory against the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), NPA and the National Democratic Front (NDF) and they do not want that to happen.

“The leftist groups clearly don’t want us to win against the CPP-NPA-NDF. They are anti-peace and anti-development. They clearly don’t want to see the end of the communist insurgency in our country. Why? We should ask them,” Malaya said.

The Supreme Court (SC) has declared red-tagging, vilification, labeling and guilt by association as threatening to one’s right to life, liberty or security.

Malaya, however, said “the Supreme Court never said that the NTF-ELCAC is a notorious red-tagger.”

“In fact, the NTF-ELCAC is not a party to the case nor was it impleaded, so why it is now being linked to this decision boggles the mind. It’s non-sequitur,” he added.

The NSC official noted that President Marcos would never abolish a task force that he himself chairs and has been very successful in bringing peace and development to remote areas of the country.

During her visit to Manila in February, Irene Khan, the United Nations expert on freedom of expression, urged Marcos to denounce the practice of “red-tagging” and disband the NTF-ELCAC.

Former president Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order 70, which created the NTF-ELCAC, in 2018.

Human rights groups said the NTF-ELCAC has become the main agency behind red-tagging of leftist