KARAPATAN slams NTF-ELCAC bid for more funding

Human rights alliance KARAPATAN assailed the latest attempt by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) to wheedle more funds from government coffers in the upcoming deliberations in Congress for the 2025 budget.

The NTF-ELCAC is reportedly gunning for an additional PhP 8.7 billion for its so-called Support to Barangay Development Program where barangays that have been declared “insurgency-free” are granted PhP 10 million each. This means that the NTF-ELCAC is targeting 870 barangays nationwide for intensified counter-insurgency operations, ostensibly to make them “insurgency-free” and qualify them for funding.

KARAPATAN secretary general Cristina Palabay raised serious concerns over the announcement, saying, “Intensified counter-insurgency operations in these 870 barangays means heightened human rights violations and violations of International Humanitarian Law in these places.”

“Residents of the targeted barangays can expect more red-tagging, harassment, intimidation and fake surrenders spearheaded by the NTF-ELCAC and even more serious human rights violations such as illegal arrest and detention, enforced disappearance or extrajudicial killing,” added Palabay, “just like in the other barangays that have been targeted in the past.”

“This will definitely not be a game-changer, as the NTF-ELCAC claims,” said Palabay, “since more repression can only further alienate the people and fuel resistance.”

“In spite of this,” said Palabay, “Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who chairs the NTF-ELCAC, continues to turn a deaf ear to growing demands to do away with this red-tagging agency, with two United Nations special rapporteurs adding their voices to calls for its abolition,” she added. “Instead, Marcos Jr. ridiculously denied that the NTF-ELCAC engages in red-tagging and made ludicrous claims that the human rights situation has improved under his regime. He has even come out with another empty PR gimmick by creating a human rights ‘super-body.’”

“The people’s money will be better spent on much-needed social services and other productive endeavors rather than beefing up funds for a body notorious for violating human rights,” concluded Palabay.