MANILA -- Malacañang on Monday defended the appointment of retired colonel Allen Capuyan as Executive Director of the National Secretariat of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said it is the call of President Rodrigo R. Duterte to appoint whoever he felt would best lead the anti-insurgency office.

“Since the President has appointed him to that post, then the President, I’m sure, knows what he’s doing,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.

“Maybe he doesn’t believe in the corruption charges. As I said, that is the call of the President,” he added.

Capuyan's appointment was met with criticism since he was earlier linked to the smuggling of PHP6.4 billion worth of shabu from China in 2017.

He was also reported to be the person behind the “Hello, Garci” wiretapping scandal under the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Capuyan's appointment paper was signed on March 25 but a copy of which was released to media on March 30.

Prior to being appointed as anti-insurgency office head, he was also the President's adviser for indigenous people's concerns and official of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA).

In December 2018, Duterte created a national task force to “end” local communist armed conflict and adopt a national peace framework that will contain policies addressing the root causes of insurgencies.

Under Executive Order 70, signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea by authority of the President, the task force is mandated to formulate a National Peace Framework which shall include, among others, a mechanism for local peace engagements or negotiations and interventions within six months.

The framework should be anchored on a “whole-of-nation approach” which prioritizes the delivery of basic services and social development packages by the government, facilitates societal inclusivity, and ensures active participation of all sectors of the society in the pursuit of the country's peace agenda. (PNA)