Karapatan assails Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s rank hypocrisy and denialism on NTF-ELCAC’s abolition

Karapatan assails Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s rank hypocrisy and denialism in claiming that the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) should not be dismantled because it supposedly does not engage in red-tagging and is therefore not accountable for the ensuing human rights violations that red-tagging victims suffer. Marcos Jr. made the statement in reaction to calls for the agency’s abolition after a recent Supreme Court ruling recognized red-tagging as dangerous to a person’s life, liberty and security.

No matter how much he tries, however, Marcos Jr. cannot wash his hands of responsibility for the escalating violations of human rights and international humanitarian law consequent to the NTF-ELCAC’s red-tagging mania. As commander-in-chief, Marcos Jr. chairs the NTF-ELCAC and approves the counter-insurgency doctrines that drive the agency’s frenzied red- and terror-tagging.

Marcos Jr.’s denialism also comes after no less than two United Nations Special Rapporteurs (UNSR) who have conducted official visits in the Philippines have recommended the abolition of the NTF-ELCAC.

In a press briefing in February 2024, Irene Khan, UNSR on Freedom of Expression and Opinion who came to the country on a ten-day visit, urged the Marcos Jr. government to issue an executive order prohibiting red-tagging and to do away with the NTF-ELCAC, saying this would address some of the most critical drivers of red-tagging.

Earlier, in his visit in November 2023, UNSR on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in the Context of Climate Change Ian Fry had also called for the disbandment of the NTF-ELCAC, saying that it is red-tagging people and operating with impunity. Among the persons interviewed by Fry were young environmental activists Jonila Castro and Jhed Tamano who went off-script during a press conference organized by the NTF-ELCAC and divulged that they had actually been abducted by the military. The NTF-ELCAC had planned on presenting them as surrenderees.

Marcos Jr. can deny the truth all he can. But the Filipino people and the world see through his lies and his hypocrisy.