NSC: No abolition of NTF-ELCAC

By Priam Nepomuceno

May 8, 2023, 11:03 am Updated on May 8, 2023, 11:12 am

MANILA – The National Security Council (NSC) denied reports that the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) will be dismantled.

NSC Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya, who is also the head of the agency's Strategic Communications Office, said there is no truth to rumors claiming that Executive Order (EO) 23 was issued to abolish or dismantle the anti-insurgency task force.

"Nowhere does it state in Executive Order No. 23 that the NTF ELCAC will be abolished or dismantled. The two Executive issuances relate to different topics. EO 23 relates to the protection of the freedom of association and the right to organize while EO 70, which created the NTF ELCAC, relates to the institutionalization of the whole of nation approach to attaining sustainable peace as well as the adoption of a national peace framework," he said in a statement released over the weekend.

Malaya said as NTF-ELCAC chair, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., is firmly committed to the whole-of-nation approach to finally ending communist terrorism in the country.

The NSC is the vice chair of the anti-communist insurgency body.

He also added that the Chief Executive has already directed the NTF-ELCAC to intensify its efforts now that the government has attained strategic victory over the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

"Seventy-five percent of all NPA guerrilla fronts have been dismantled. Only 22 out of the original 89 fronts are still existing. Of the 22 left, 20 are weakened and the remaining 2 are the subject of focused military operations and development efforts by NTF-ELCAC agencies," Malaya added.

He also noted that Marcos' marching orders to the NTF-ELCAC is very clear and that is "sustain the whole-of-nation approach to peace and development" to prevent communist terrorists, their front organizations, and other lawless elements from recruiting, regrouping, and regaining power.

"He (Marcos) also directed the Task Force and the local government units to continue working together to seize the gains in the regions and ensure that we carry this momentum towards total victory over communist terrorism under his administration," the NSC official noted.

Meanwhile, the NTF-ELCAC supports the NSC's position that there are no plans to abolish the task force in relation to the recent issuance of EO 23.

"Established under EO 70 of 2018, the NTF-ELCAC continues to work towards fulfilling President Marcos’ marching order of sustaining the whole-of-government approach and whole-of-nation participation to peace and development, with the aim of preventing terrorists and lawless elements from recruiting, regrouping, and gaining influence over our countrymen," NTF-ELCAC executive director Undersecretary Ernesto Torres Jr. said.

He added that after a "diligent perusal" of EO 23, the NTF-ELCAC finds that it neither repeals EO 70 nor renders the task force ineffective.

"The issuance of EO 23 aims to reinforce and protect the freedom and rights of Filipino workers to organize, as well as create an inter-agency committee aimed at investigating, prosecuting, and resolving cases of violations of these fundamental rights," Torres noted.

He, however, admitted that while EO 23 was issued with noble intent, individuals and groups affiliated with the communist terrorist " will surely find ways to leverage this EO to further their false narratives and push their sinister plots."

"As such, we will continuously strive to remain vigilant of their actions and ensure that these EOs work as intended," Torres said.

He added that this is possible as the EO 23 empowers the body to take a more active role in protecting the country's labor sector.

"Therefore, we at NTF-ELCAC look forward to working with the Inter-Agency Committee for the protection of the freedom of association and rights to organize workers in the coming days, not only to champion the rights of our country's labor sector but also to collaborate with them. Working hand in hand with the said Inter-Agency Committee, we believe that through our combined efforts we can effectively safeguard the rights of our workers while preventing the CTG (communist terrorist group) from exploiting these rights for their own nefarious purposes," Torres said. (PNA)