Abolish NTF-ELCAC, junk terror law – KARAPATAN

KARAPATAN reiterates its calls for the abolition of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict and the repeal of Republic Act No. 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act, as the UN Special Rapporteur on Climate Change and Human Rights Ian Fry submitted his final report on his official visit in the Philippines today, July 2, 2024, at the 56th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

In his report, Fry highlighted these two recommendations, pointing out the role of the NTF-ELCAC and the implementation of the ATL in infringing on the rights of environmental defenders, indigenous people, peasants, women, and LGBTQ, among others, who challenge and resist big destructive mining and projects such as dams and reclamation projects in the Philippines.

“Marcos’ National Security Policy, his counterinsurgency blueprint implemented through State security forces and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), drives the continuing increase in the number of human rights and international humanitarian law violations,” KARAPATAN Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.

“Extrajudicial killings of peasants, indigenous peoples, workers, environmental defenders, among others, are committed by State security forces in the guise of “military encounters” with armed rebels. The patterns of enforced disappearances, illegal arrests and detention, red-tagging, threats, harassment and intimidation remain to appear as State-sanctioned as State actors commit them with impunity. Indiscriminate bombing and firing continue especially in the countryside away from the attention of mass media and civil society organizations,” Palabay added.

To date, human rights group Karapatan has monitored at least 112 human rights defenders facing criminal complaints or charges under the Anti-Terrorism Law and Republic Act No. 10168 or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act.

“Thirty two (32) of them are detained on trumped-up charges under these laws. Thirty two (32) individuals, including peace consultants, indigenous rights defenders and a community health worker, have been arbitrarily designated as terrorists. All face threats to their lives, liberty and security, and right to free expression. Their ability to exercise their right to defend human rights remains curtailed, especially of those in prison. Instead of protecting people’s rights, the anti-terrorism law itself is being used to violate the rights of those it is supposed to protect – for instance, by charging activists with domestic violations of international humanitarian law and falsely implicating them in legitimate military encounters in the country’s armed conflict,” KARAPATAN said.

“As the Marcos Jr. regime maintains the NTF-ELCAC and its rabid implementation of the ATL, it exposes its hypocrisy on the human rights situation in the Philippines. Along with its stubborn adherence to the draconian policies of the past administrations especially the Duterte regime, its disinterest in pursuing justice for victims of human rights violations is clear and present proof of its fascist character and approach. KARAPATAN calls on the international community to monitor the situation in the Philippines and extend solidarity to victims and communities who bear the brunt of Marcos Jr.’s fascist attacks against the Filipino people,” Palabay concluded.

*Copy of Mr. Fry’s report is available through this link: Visit to Philippines – Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change, Ian Fry – Advance unedited version