NTF-ELCAC won't be abolished under Marcos: Banlaoi

Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 08 2022 06:15 PM

Banlaoi: Badoy was under PCOO, not NSC

The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) will not be abolished under the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Instead, the task force will be enhanced, Deputy National Security Adviser-designate Rommel Banlaoi said on Friday.

“Hindi po totoo ang kumakalat sa social media na ia-abolish ang NTF-ELCAC. Ito po ay itutuloy, papalakasin pa ng kasalukuyang pamahalaan para ma-sustain ang gains ng ELCAC. Na-appreciate namin na maraming successes ang ELCAC. Maraming exemplary practices na dapat ipagpatuloy at may areas na dapat pang mapalakas,” Banlaoi told reporters at a forum in Quezon City.

(There's no truth to rumors circulating on social media that the NTF-ELCAC will be abolished. It will be continued and strengthened by the current administration to sustain the gains of the agency. We appreciate the many successes of ELCAC. There are many exemplary practices that should be continued but there are areas that need to be strengthened.)

Banlaoi also said National Security Adviser Clarita Carlos had nothing to do with former Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy being out of the NTF-ELCAC, explaining Badoy’s position was under the Presidential Communications Operations Office, not the National Security Council. 

Badoy also served as spokesperson for the anti-communist task force’s sectoral concerns.

Carlos met with the secretariat of the NTF-ELCAC on Thursday, July 7, to discuss the task force’s ongoing programs and initiatives.

Banlaoi said one of the NSA’s marching orders is to simplify the structure of the NTF-ELCAC.

"You will see new faces and continue to see old faces. In fact, you will continue to see many old faces, pero may mga new faces like me (but there are new faces like me)," he said.

The deputy NSA-designate said they plan to intensify efforts to improve how to properly implement the NTF-ELCAC’s programs at the grassroots level.

“Those vulnerable communities… na nangangailangan talaga ng whole of nation approach para ma-end ang local communist armed conflict. Ang tutok ng ELCAC hindi lamang ang armed components—'yung NPA na ngayon ay paliit na nang paliit ang kanilang number… ang pinaglalaban din ng NPA, like [addressing] injustices, poverty, delivery of social services, lack of government support, ‘yan din ang pinaglalaban ng pamahalaan,” Banlaoi said.

(Those vulnerable communities need a whole-of-nation approach to end the local communist armed conflict. The ELCAC's focus is not just on the armed components—NPA's numbers are shrinking... NPA's demands like [addressing] injustices, poverty, delivery of social services, and lack of government support, are what we're also fighting for.)

The NSA wants to make the NTF-ELCAC “more socially acceptable," he said.

Banlaoi also urged the public to report abuses arising from the implementation of the task force’s programs.

“We will address all the limitations and overcome all these challenges. There are many rooms for improvement and we are ready to listen to all stakeholders,” he said. “Isa sa thrusts namin ngayon ay (One of our thrusts now is that) we will be more open to the public about ELCAC so that whole efforts will be owned by the people.”

The NTF-ELCAC was created through Executive Order No. 70 signed by then-president Rodrigo Duterte in 2018. 

Before stepping down from office, Duterte heaped praises on the task force, saying it has achieved success in addressing the decades-old communist insurgency.

But this was clouded by allegations of red-tagging, mainly by its designated spokespersons. 

'RED-TAGGING MUST BE STOPPED'

The NTF-ELCAC drew flak for constantly accusing activists, universities, journalists, health workers and government critics of working with communist rebels.

For Banlaoi, red-tagging—or labeling government critics and activists as communists—must be stopped.

“Ang nakakalungkot na image ng ELCAC ay na-associate siya sa red-tagging, pero ang ELCAC is more than the red-tagging issue… Hindi productive ang red-tagging. Kung may dapat ihinto sa ELCAC, ito ang sinasabi nilang red-tagging,” Banlaoi said.

(A saddening image of ELCAC is that it is associated with red-tagging, but ELCAC is more than the red-tagging issue. Red-tagging is not productive. If there's one thing that must be stopped in the ELCAC, it's what they call red-tagging.)

On Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa seeking the passage of a measure that will institutionalize the NTF-ELCAC through legislation, Banlaoi said security officials are still studying the bill.

Last year, some senators proposed to defund the task force following its alleged red-tagging and profiling of community pantry organizers.

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