Duterte pushes for continuation of deadly anti-insurgency program, war on drugs

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during the annual state of the nation address at the House of Representatives in Manila on July 26, 2021. (Photo by LISA MARIE DAVID / POOL / AFP) (Photo by LISA MARIE DAVID/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during the annual state of the nation address at the House of Representatives in Manila on July 26, 2021. (Photo by LISA MARIE DAVID / POOL / AFP) (Photo by LISA MARIE DAVID/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

President Rodrigo Duterte has pushed for the continuation of his administration’s “war on drugs” and the deadly National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), saying it can wipe out insurgency in about two years.

In a taped public briefing aired on Monday (June 6), Duterte said that NTF-ELCAC helped reduce the number of armed communist rebels by cracking down on their operations and incentivizing rebels who surrender.

“On a scale of one to 10, ang success of ELCAC, this whole-of-government approach, if maintained, will be easier,” Duterte said.

“I would think that, given the way ELCAC is running, give it another two years, it [the insurgency] would be almost wiped out. There are places that have only platoons,” he added.

The controversial NTF-ELCAC has channeled millions of pesos worth of anti-insurgency projects to hundreds of barangays, even during the health crisis.

While its goal is to wipe out rebels in the country, its officials have, more often than not, only continued to red-tag civilians and progressives, endangering the lives of those they red-tag.

NTF-ELCAC Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy has earlier received complaints for her rampant red-tagging of Vice-president Leni Robredo and members of the Makabayan bloc.

Duterte further praised the NTF-ELCAC and recently included it in one of his “legacies.”

“This is just me. I’m not addressing it to anybody. This ELCAC — this brainchild of General Esperon — is a very good one, and it can really help the country in its insurgency problem,” he said, referring to his national security adviser, Secretary Hermogenes Esperon Jr., a retired Army general who became chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Executive Order No. 70, which establishes the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), basically legalizes human rights violations on the critics of the administration, as it has been used to justify abuses on progressives, and members of different sectors such as workers, farmers, and the national minority.

Rights groups, meanwhile, call for NTF-ELCAC to be defunded or abolished because of its rampant red-tagging, which they say precedes actual violence on those who are red-tagged.

Duterte further appealed to the Philippine National Police (PNP) to maintain their “momentum” in running after drug syndicates.

“Do not be afraid to confront this evil called shabu,” said Duterte, whose “drug war” has killed around 6,200 based on government records, and 30,000 drug-related extrajudicial killings(EJKs) based on data of human rights groups.

Due to its high death toll through EJKs and being called a “war on the poor” instead of targeting big-time drug lords, Dutere’s bloody drug war is under investigation by the International Criminal Court.

However, it has been temporarily suspended due to the Philippine government’s request to stop the probe.

Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. She advocates for animal welfare and press freedom. Follow her twitter @polarubyo for regular news and cat postings.

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