MANILA - Officials of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF- ELCAC) signed a joint counter-affidavit on Wednesday in response to the election offenses complaint filed by the Makabayan bloc before the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
In a press conference, the 12 cluster head chairpersons of the anti-communist task force appeared before a designated Judge Advocate General (JAG) notary public to sign the document.
The Makabayan bloc last month filed a complaint before the Comelec against the NTF-ELCAC for allegedly violating sections 261-E, 261-I, and 261-O of the Omnibus Election Code, which refers to threats, intimidation, terrorism, use of fraudulent device or other forms of coercion; Intervention of public officers and employees; and use of public funds, money deposited in trust, equipment, facilities owned or controlled by the government for an election campaign.
National Security Adviser and NTF-ELCAC Vice Chairman Hermogenes Esperon claimed that the anti-insurgency task force was “legitimately upholding its mandate of protecting the Republic against threats posed by the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG)."
“It is the height of irony and injustice when persons or groups cry ‘red-tagging’ as an election offense when in fact the complaint that they filed is itself based on imaginative speculation that all public officers of NTF-ELCAC are automatically guilty in partisan activity by their mere association with the NTF-ELCAC,” Esperon said at a press conference.
“The complainant’s selective handpicking of officers, all without basis and without any allegation and proof, conveys not just their sense of justice but rather, betrays their bias, prejudice and harassment against the duly-constituted authorities of the state,” Esperon added.
The NTF-ELCAC also alleged that rebels allegedly infiltrated the Congress through the party-list system through groups they called “KABAG”, an acronym for Kabataan Party-list (K), Anakpawis (A), Bayan Muna (B), Alliance of Concerned Teachers (A) and Gabriela (G).
The anti-insurgency task force also claimed that the case filed by “KABAG” was a form of harassment after the government gained significant ground against the communist insurgency.
“Bakit nila biglang binibira ang cluster chairmen? Kasi talagang nahihirapan na sila… Meron silang 68 guerilla fronts. Nabuwag natin ang 51. 51!” Esperon said.
“Ang ginagawa ng KABAG party-list groups, itong pag file ng kaso is purely harassment. Gusto nila matakot kami at ihinto kami na magsalita ng katotohanan. Kasi sa pagsasalita namin ng katotohanan ay nalalaman ng ating mga mamayan,” said Gen. Alex Paul Monteagudo, NTF-ELCAC cluster head and Director General of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency.
“Wala naman kaming ginagawa kung hindi mag implement ng mga project. Trabaho lang kami. Kaya siguro sa mga kasama namin diyan na nag-file ng kaso sa amin, baka nagkakamali kayo,” IRM Cluster Head Undersecretary Maximo L. Carvajal said.
The anti-communist task force electronically filed their joint counter-affidavit, with another copy to be personally filed before the Comelec in the coming days.
Meanwhile, former Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño shrugged off the NTF- ELCAC’s move. He also questioned whether it was “proper” for them to “campaign against members of the opposition."
“The issue to be resolved by the Comelec is simple," Casiño said in a statement sent to ABS-CBN News. "Is it proper for public officials like Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy and other officials of the NTF-ELCAC to campaign against members of the opposition, including not just the Makabayan Bloc but even Vice President Leni Robredo, by maliciously tagging all of us of being members, fronts or conspirators of the CPP-NPA-NDFP? Is it proper for these officials to use public funds and resources to vilify, discredit, threaten and intimidate parties and candidates running in the coming elections?"
"The law is clear. Public officials, including those in the security sector, should not engage in partisan political activity, much more use government resources for this purpose. That is the crime that Badoy and the other NTF-ELCAC officials should be held accountable for,” he added.
Casiño also said that the NTF- ELCAC official's “rants” indicated that the government was in “panic mode” due to the growing support of Robredo-Pangilinan rallies.