Senator Ronald dela Rosa yesterday called out a United Nations special rapporteur for suggesting to abolish the country’s anti-insurgency task force.
UN human rights and climate change expert Ian Fry on Wednesday called on the government to abolish the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) for red-tagging community and indigenous people’s leaders.
Dela Rosa rebuked Fry for claiming the task force was “operating with impunity.”
“That is why we are in quandary right now. NTF-ELCAC is all about good governance and delivery of basic services to the communities and they are not involved in armed confrontation with the enemies of the state,” he said.
“Why are they lambasting the NTF-ELCAC? Maybe they are being fed with wrong information,” Dela Rosa added.
Fry said there was “no reasonable response that ELCAC can say to the fact that I’ve heard stories of torture, disappearance and EJK of people.”
“This is totally unacceptable. It seems the government has lost control of this military organization and is moving beyond what is considered reasonable,” Fry added.
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla on Wednesday asserted the government’s independence in solving its problems as he rejected Fry’s call.
“They should not meddle in the internal mechanism of the Philippines which is effective in achieving its goals,” Remulla said.
National Security Adviser Secretary Eduardo Año, who is concurrent vice chairman of the NTF-ELCAC, also took strong exception to Fry’s push to disband the task force.
“Fry, in his capacity as a UNSR on a country visit, has been given the freedom to move and inquire on matters related to his mandate. But apparently, due to reasons beyond us, he has not exercised this to its full potential. In the interest of fairness and justice, he should have raised his concerns with us to ensure that he has a full appreciation of the body’s mandate, operations, and overall directions. Sadly, even if he had issues on the NTF-ELCAC that are relevant to his report, he did not find time to do so,” Año said in a statement.
The UN official said the Philippines ranks only second to Brazil as the worst place in the world as far as the treatment of environmental rights defenders is concerned.
“I think that’s going to seriously affect the international reputation of the Philippines if that continues and if they don’t initiate a process to resolve that rapidly,” he said.