NTF-ELCAC chief rejects call to scrap ‘relevant’ task force

February 3, 2024, 7:52 pm

<p>National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC)</p>

National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC)

MANILA – The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) remains relevant in the ongoing peace efforts of the Philippine government, its executive director Undersecretary Ernesto Torres Jr. said Saturday.

Torres was responding to United Nations Special Rapporteur (UNSR) on Freedom of Expression Irene Khan’s call for the abolition of NTF-ELCAC, which she claimed is outdated and “does not take into account the ongoing prospects for peace negotiations.”

He said the NTF-ELCAC felt “betrayed” by Khan’s recommendation and believed the UN expert ”failed to comprehend the government's established and institutionalized mechanisms for anti-terrorism and peace efforts.”

During her 10-day intensive visit to the country, Khan met with several stakeholders and government officials, including those from the NTF-ELCAC.

“We strongly reject UNSR Irene Khan's call for the abolition of the NTF-ELCAC. We take offense in her pronouncements against the Philippine government and the NTF-ELCAC,” Torres said in a statement.

Khan sought the termination of the task force during her exit conference on Feb. 2.

Torres argued that NTF-ELCAC “remains as the single most relevant task force in the Philippines” in addressing local communist armed conflict.

“We will not allow any outsider to dictate us how to fight our wars and to dictate upon us the means to win the peace for our people. We have managed to succeed in our fight against insurgency and terrorism as a nation and as a people,” he said.

“This is something that cannot be hijacked nor be undermined by anyone. The NTF-ELCAC will continue to work for peace, unity, and development within the framework of justice and the rule of law.”

The task force was created through Executive Order 70 issued by former president Rodrigo Duterte on Dec. 4, 2018.

Its objective is to respond and raise awareness of the ongoing communist rebellion in the country. (PNA)