Marcos dared: Abolish NTF-ELCAC

A protester belonging to progressive group that challenged President Ferdinand
This photo taken on December 10, 2020 shows a protester holding up a placard against "red-tagging" during a protest to commemorate International Human Rights Day near the presidential palace in Manila. Women's group GABRIELA has challenged President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. to abolish a government task force notorious for profiling progressives. (Photo: MARIA TAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Women’s group GABRIELA challenged the administration of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to abolish the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) – the government’s anti-communist agency established under the previous administration.

NTF-ELCAC has been the recipient of a lot of criticism from progressive groups for relentlessly red-tagging the latter. Red-tagging is the act of baselessly affiliating a group or individual with the revolutionary Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP).

"Pagkilala ng matagal nang kritisismo ng mamamayan hinggil sa NTF-ELCAC ang pahayag ni National Security Adviser Clarita Carlos kaugnay ng walang-batayan at mapaminsalang red-tagging ng nasabing task force,” GABRIELA secretary-general Joms Salvador said on Saturday (July 9)

(National Security Adviser Clarita Carlos’ statement that the task force’s red-tagging is baseless and harmful is a recognition of the people’s criticism regarding NTF-ELCAC.)

The group associates some deaths among the ranks of progressives with red-tagging committed by the state.

Marami na itong naging biktima na hanggang ngayon ay hindi nakakakamit ng hustisya, gaya nina Zara Alvarez, Randall Echanis, Carlito Badion, Atty. Ben Ramos, at mga magsasaka—mga marahas na pinaslang matapos silang i-redtag,” Salvador said. Walang ibang makatuwirang hakbang, kung gayon, liban sa tuluyan nang buwagin at panagutin ang NTF-ELCAC.”

(This [red-tagging] has led to many deaths that until today we have yet to attain justice, such as the deaths of Zara Alvarez, Randall Echanis, Carlito Badion, Atty. Ben Ramos, and some formers–they were violently killed after being red-tagged. The justified thing to do, therefore, is to abolish and hold accountable the NTF-ELCAC.)

GABRIELA also highlighted how some women, such as community pantry organizer Patreng Non and the ‘Marikina 10’, the latter of which were arrested for conducting a feeding program during the early months of the pandemic.

“They were subjected to harassment, red-tagging, and even imprisonment for daring to address the huge gaps in the government's pandemic response. Instead of welcoming this coming together of Filipinos to help each other, the NTF-ELCAC consistently attempts to sow disunity and fear among the people," Salvador said.

The group stressed that the anti-communist agency is “a waste of people’s money with the state-allocated billions for its questionable social welfare programs amid the aggravating economic crisis.”

Salvador said, “Duterte and NTF-ELCAC’s layers of corruption – acquiring millions of questionable coffers and spending public funds – should be investigated and should be re-channeled to support the displaced working-class families due to the pandemic and disasters.”

Mark Ernest Famatigan is a news writer who focuses on Philippine politics. He is an advocate for press freedom and regularly follows developments in the Philippine economy. The views expressed are his own.

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