Makabayan slams NTF-Elcac for ‘enabling state terrorism’
MANILA, Philippines — The disappearance and reemergence of environmental activists Jonila Castro and Jhed Tamano on the very watch of state forces — in a whirl of events since last week until Tuesday — has renewed calls to abolish the government’s anti-communist task force for “enabling state terrorism” using public funds.
Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas on Monday commended Castro and Tamano for their “bravery in spilling the truth” when they countered claims by the military that they surrendered voluntarily.
“We commend their bravery in spilling the truth in the midst of military generals and red-taggers, even as we express grave concern for their safety and security following their disclosure,” she said in a statement on Tuesday, before the two activists were released to the custody of the Commission on Human Rights and reunited with their families.
Brosas said the military, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac), and even corporations with reclamation projects at Manila Bay should be held accountable for their “cowardly abduction” of the two activists.
She said the two activists have been campaigning to save Manila Bay from reclamation.
‘Organizers of the Left’
National Security Council Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya had said over the weekend that Castro and Tamano were not environmental activists but “organizers of the Left” who wanted to bolt the movement and sought the government’s help.
Brosas and other activist legislators and lawyers had called for the filing of kidnapping and illegal detention charges against all those behind Castro and Tamano’s detention.
“Their attempt to silence and terrorize environmental defenders has sputtered into failure, and now [they] should face the seething rage of various concerned groups and sectors,” Brosas said.
She said she would raise “pointed questions” during Wednesday’s scheduled debate on the budget of the Department of National Defense.
“We also reiterate our call to abolish NTF-Elcac for brazenly enabling state terrorism using public funds,” Brosas added.
House Deputy Minority Leader and ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro said: “It is unacceptable that the institutions which profess to ensure the safety and security of the Filipino people are directly involved in these abductions.”
“This highlights the need to abolish the NTF-Elcac, which has been consistently used as a tool to suppress legitimate dissent and violate the rights of activists,” she added.
She asked if confidential and intelligence funds were being used in the surveillance and kidnapping of activists.
Kabataan Rep. Raoul Manuel said no one should be spared from scrutiny as he called for accountability from the military.