Security exec: SC ruling didn't say NTF-ELCAC a 'red-tagger'

By Priam Nepomuceno

May 13, 2024, 11:29 am

MANILA – The National Security Council (NSC) on Monday dismissed calls made by leftist groups calling for the abolition of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

NSC Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya made the remark after Karapatan, Gabriela, and Human Rights Watch, among others, called for the task force's abolition following the Supreme Court's (SC) ruling declaring red-tagging a threat to people's life, liberty, and security, and could warrant the issuance of a protection order.

He, however, emphasized that nowhere in the SC's 39-page decision granting a writ of amparo to former Bayan Muna party-list lawmaker Siegfred Deduro does it state that NTF-ELCAC was responsible for red-tagging.

The SC ruled in favor of Deduro, whose petition for such relief was dismissed by the Iloilo Regional Trial Court (RTC).

"The SC never said that the NTF-ELCAC is a notorious red-tagger. 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.

He also noted that the SC, in its ruling, explained that it was not "making a categorical ruling on the merits of the writ of amparo."

The SC also said the RTC must determine the relevance and consistency of the evidence presented by both parties.

"So clearly, the SC was merely correcting a procedural lapse on the part of the Regional Trial Court and ordered the remanding of the case to the RTC for the conduct of summary hearing. The NTF-ELCAC has nothing to do with this case. Period," Malaya noted.

The SC held that the lower court erred in cursorily dismissing the case without requiring the respondent to file a return.

Without the opportunity to file a return, the SC said the RTC deprived the State of the opportunity to effectively define its side on the matter in violation of the fundamental right to due process.

Malaya, meanwhile, said these abolition calls are unfounded and uncalled for as the body has been instrumental and a "game changer" in the successful campaign against the New People's Army (NPA) and their allied and front organizations.

"Because of the NTF-ELCAC, the NPA has been strategically defeated with its last remaining nine weakened guerilla fronts with around 1,000 remaining armed members scattered in remote areas. Peace is finally within our reach," he added.

Malaya said leftist groups have been adamant about their calls on the NTF-ELCAC's abolition because the government is now nearing its objective of achieving complete victory against the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), NPA and National Democratic Front (NDF).

Malaya also emphasized that President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. would never abolish a task force that he chairs and has proven to be successful in bringing peace and development to remote areas of the country.

"In the last NTF-ELCAC meeting in Malacañang, the President, as task force chairperson, was very happy with the achievements of the NTF ELCAC. In fact, he directed the task force to immediately implement the Amnesty Program, increase financial support to the 846 barangays under the NTF ELCAC's Barangay Development Program, and directed the Cabinet to study the task force's 2024-2028 Roadmap," he said. (PNA)