Carlos: NTF-ELCAC 'strongly recommends' amnesty offer for rebels

Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 15 2022 09:23 PM | Updated as of Jul 16 2022 06:10 AM

New People's Army rebels in Gigaquit, Surigao del Norte. Kleester Macasero, ABS-CBN News/file
New People's Army rebels in Gigaquit, Surigao del Norte. Kleester Macasero, ABS-CBN News/file

Faustino: NTF-ELCAC won't tolerate red-tagging

MANILA — The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) “strongly recommends” offering amnesty to communist rebels, National Security Adviser Clarita Carlos said Friday.

The NTF-ELCAC executive committee reached this consensus in its first meeting under the Marcos administration on Friday, saying the move seeks to “prevent the resurgence of the communist terrorist group (CTG), especially in geographically challenged, isolated and disadvantaged areas.”

Carlos serves as the NTF-ELCAC vice-chairperson.

“Under the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the NTF-ELCAC’s efforts to ensure peace and development for all Filipinos will continue. The task force strongly recommends the need for offering an amnesty to prevent the resurgence of the CTG,” Carlos said, reading the official statement of the task force.

“The executive committee recommends reaffirming the importance of the whole-of-nation approach in tackling the root causes of the armed conflict,” she added.

Asked how it would go about granting the amnesty to communist rebels, Carlos said they “don’t know yet the nitty-gritty of the recommendation” and would leave everything up to the approval of Marcos Jr.

“You will notice in the statement, our statement, really, is recommending to the president. It is the president who will make the ultimate decision in regard to the amnesty declaration,” she told reporters at Camp Aguinaldo.

‘LOCALIZED PEACE TALKS ARE BETTER’

The NTF-ELCAC said it is up to the president whether to revive peace talks between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines.

“In regards to the resumption, that is the call of the president of the republic,” the NSA said.

But Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Carlito Galvez clarified that localized peace talks are still ongoing.

“Ongoing pa rin po ang peace talks pero ginawa nating localized,” the former defense secretary said.

Galvez said the government has tried a national approach in doing the peace negotiations in the past, but “ended up to nothing” compared to localized peace talks.

“Very exhaustive ang ginawa natin, but what the CPP-NPA has done was mobilize and organize kaya lumaki ang kanilang [numbers]. Lahat ng history ng peace process ended up to nothing, pero ngayon nakita natin sa local peace engagements… nagkaroon ng significant success,” Galvez said.

He added, “Sa assessment namin, within the more than 50 years na negotiations natin, wala tayong nakuhang maganda sa national peace talks… Mas maganda ang local peace engagements kasi nandun ang goodwill, trust and confidence. Nandun ang authentic intention of both parties to really come to peace.”

For now, the NTF-ELCAC will continue peace engagements on a local scale pending Marcos Jr.’s decision.

“The local peace talks, the local peace councils are the ones working, so we continue on that level,” Carlos noted.

‘RED-TAGGING IS NOT OUR POLICY’

Department of National Defense OIC Jose Faustino Jr. said NTF-ELCAC members have nothing to do with what former task force spokesperson for sectoral concerns Lorraine Badoy claims are moves to silence her.

Badoy earlier alleged that a “current NTF-ELCAC official” was trying to “silence” her.

“Iyong tungkol sa kumausap kay Usec. Badoy, wala kaming kinalaman doon. I don’t have any knowledge about it, probably even the other members here,” Faustino said.

He also stressed that the task force will not tolerate red-tagging, explaining it is not their policy.

“Bumabalik na naman ang issue ng red-tagging. Inuulit namin, ang red-tagging hindi po nanggaling sa NTF-ELCAC. Nabanggit na po namin ito, hindi namin itotolerate ang red-tagging. What we’re trying to do is to unmask kung ano talaga ang totoo at ano ang mga grupo na ito,” Faustino said. 

“Hindi po namin ito polisiya dito sa NTF-ELCAC ang red-tagging.”

During the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte, NTF-ELCAC officials drew flak for constantly red-tagging—mainly by designated spokespersons like Badoy— by accusing many activists, universities, journalists, health workers, and government critics of working with communist rebels.

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