(PNA file photo)

MANILA – The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) has invited the Integrated Bar of the Philippines’ (IBP) 25th Board of Governors (BOG) to sit down and listen to former cadres of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

In a statement on Wednesday, NTF-ELCAC spokesperson for Legal Affairs lawyer Flosemer Chris Gonzales said the IBP has no cause for concern over the request of National Security Adviser (NSA) Hermogenes Esperon Jr. to the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) to order the blocking of websites he submitted to the agency.

He also assured the IBP that Esperon has sufficient basis in fact, and in law supported by documents and evidence, for the request to the NTC and that he does not base his decisions on mere hearsays.

“In this context, we invite the 25th IBP Board of Governors to sit down with former CPP-NPA-NDF cadres so that you will hear the truth from them. By then, you will know that the NTC and the NSA are justified in their actions,” Gonzales said. “By then, you will realize that there is more to be done for the victims of the CPP-NPA-NDF atrocities”.

Gonzales said the CPP-NPA-NDF and their allied front organizations have no space in the country and that the government does not intend to give voice to these designated terrorists.

The NTF-ELCAC said the 25th IBP BOG could not deny that the blocked websites promote terrorism and armed conflict.

“The 25th IBP BOG cannot deny the fact that these blocked websites promote "armadong pakikibaka" (armed conflict), "rebolusyon" (revolution), and echoes the propaganda issuances and statements of the CPP-NPA-NDF media bureau. In our book, promotion of terrorist propaganda material is not within the reasonable bounds of press freedom,” it said.

Gonzales said professional media organizations entail possessing a certain degree of moral responsibility for the best interest of the country and that freedom of expression is never absolute.

He added that this freedom of expression must never be used to promote anti-government propaganda and serve as a platform for communist terrorist groups (CTGs).

He said the government highly regards freedom of expression and that the IBP BOG is free to express their sentiments, along with many others.

“However, the government has the sacred duty of protecting the safety and welfare of the Filipino people so that the NTC order must remain in force and effect,” Gonzales said.

The NTF ELCAC called on the IBP BOG to give a voice instead to the victims of atrocities committed by the CPP-NPA-NDF, as well as to former rebels and cadres who have so much truth to tell about the evils and crimes committed by the CTG.

Gonzales thanked the IBP BOG for its concern, however, he said Esperon knows best when it comes to matters of state security and human security concerns.

“We hope to engage you in a meaningful dialogue with the NTF-ELCAC so that you can become part of the whole-of-nation approach to end the local communist armed conflict, Gonzales said.

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

The NDF has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the ATC on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA created in April 1973. (PNA)