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National anti-insurgency task force gets six more spokespersons

/ 04:12 PM May 10, 2021
Gov't anti-insurgency task force gets six more spokespersons

FILE PHOTO: National Security Adviser and NTF-Elcac Vice-Chairman Ret. General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. Henzberg Austria/Senate PRIB

MANILA, Philippines — The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) has designated six additional spokespersons to boost its communications team despite clamor to defund the anti-insurgency body after actions of its two main mouthpieces backfired.

National Security Adviser and NTF-Elcac Vice-Chairman Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said in a press conference on Monday that increasing the number of their spokesperson to eight is seen to up their system of information exchange and further push the task force’s stance on several issues.

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“These eight spokespersons come from the different agencies of the government, the designation of officials under the expanded pool of spokespersons allows for focused discourse and engagement with the public on each spokesperson’s respective coverage,” explained Esperon.

Army Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. will keep his concurrent post in the anti-insurgency task force as spokesperson for security sector operations, as well as Presidential Communications Operations Office Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy as spokesperson for social media affairs and the sectoral concerns. These two drew broad criticism for their alleged red-tagging remarks on community pantry organizers, which consequently led to calls by senators to defund NTF-Elcac.

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According to Esperon, the six new spokespersons of NTF-Elcac are:

  • Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya for local government affairs, barangay development program, international engagement
  • Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat Undersecretary Severo Catura for international affairs, peace process, human rights concerns
  • Presidential Task Force on Media Security executive director Joel Egco for mass media engagements, fact-checking
  • Metropolitan Manila Development Authority spokesperson Celine Pialago for NTF-Elcac public affairs and information as well as youth concerns
  • Atty. Marlon Bosantog for legal affairs and indigenous peoples’ concerns
  • Assistant spokesperson Gaye Florendo for public affairs and indigenous peoples’ concerns

Esperon said there is a need for NTF-Elcac to add more spokespersons because the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) has proven itself to be a “multifaceted, multilayered.”

Citing CPP founder Joma Sison, Esperon said the NPA has “underground mass organizations that control and infiltrate good organizations or control the organizations that they have actually organized.”

“And so, just like the NPA, we have to cover everything,” he stressed.

Esperon also defended the designation of a total of eight NTF-Elcac spokespersons by saying the task force is composed of “practically all agencies of government,” thus, there is a need to spread the work to different people.

“The National Task Force is composed of practically all agencies of government. We are just drawing the support and pool of talents from all government agencies,” he said.

Senators earlier said the P19.5 billion budget of the NTF-Elcac should instead be realigned to aid pandemic-hit Filipinos.

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Senators had also previously challenged Parlade’s appointment as NTF-Elcac spokesman a civil position while remaining in active military service.

Article 16, Section 5 of the 1987 Constitution states that “No member of the armed forces in the active service shall, at any time, be appointed or designated in any capacity to a civilian position in the government, including government-owned or controlled corporations or any of their subsidiaries.”

RELATED STORIES

Six senators: Defund NTF-Elcac, realign P19B budget to aid pandemic-hit citizens

Senate recommends Parlade’s removal from anti-insurgency task force post

Parlade: Senators ‘stupid’ if they defund task force

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TAGS: Antonio Parlade Jr., Hermogenes Esperon Jr., Lorraine Badoy, NTF-ELCAC
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