Nat’l security adviser rejects call to abolish NTF-Elcac
MANILA, Philippines — National Security Adviser Eduardo Año on Wednesday objected to the call of a United Nations special rapporteur (UNSR) to abolish the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac).
“The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) takes strong exception to the call made by Dr. Ian Fry, visiting UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the context of climate change, to ‘disband’ the NTF-Elcac,” Año, also the vice chairman of the task force, said in a statement.
Fry, citing the reported human rights violations and reported red-tagging of environmental activists and advocates, called for the disbandment of the NTF-Elcac following his meeting with civil society organizations and indigenous people groups, according to news reports.
Año, however, lamented that Fry did not consult the NTF-Elcac before making the recommendation.
“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,” Año said.
“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,” he also said.
Nevertheless, the former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief invited Fry, who visited the country from Nov. 6 to 15, to a dialogue.
“In the absence of this clarificatory engagement with the NTF-Elcac, Fry’s report must be deemed incomplete. Clarity in context is required to enrich his report and render the same relevant,” he said.
“Reiterating that Fry has had a very limited time in his visit, we extend an open invitation to him for a dialogue in the near future before he finalizes his report,” Ano added.
“We would consider his acceptance of this offer as an indication to truly preserve the integrity of his mandate to engage States on matters of human rights in an inclusive, impartial, and non-discriminatory manner.”
The Philippines remain to be Asia’s deadliest country for environmentalists with 11 fatalities recorded in the country in 2022, according to international watchdog Global Witness.