NTF-Elcac must review, assess mandate – CHR
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has urged the government’s anti-communist body to review and assess its mandate, echoing the stand of United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur Irene Khan, who called for the task force’s abolition.
In a statement on Monday, CHR said that it acknowledges the UN special rapporteur’s recommendations regarding the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) — which Khan said must be abolished for being outdated.
CHR said it is ready to assist the NTF-Elcac to ensure that the task force eventually achieves its mandate while adhering to human rights standards.
“The Commission also acknowledges the recommendation regarding the mandate of the [NTF-Elcac]. We extend our reminder to fellow duty-bearers that Philippine democracy thrives at the core of promoting and protecting the dignity of every Filipino, including their right to participate in public governance,” CHR said.
“As such, we urge the NTF-Elcac to review its mandate and assess how it can attend to the current needs of the country. CHR is more than ready to put forward policy advisories and offer relevant training aligned with our promotion mandate to further equip the NTF-Elcac in fulfilling its mandate through a human rights-based approach,” it added.
CHR also assured the public and Khan that the commission is doing its part to check on complaints about red-tagging, which the UN special rapporteur said usually originates from people affiliated with the government.
“It must be noted that the CHR held a forum on red-tagging last 06 December 2023 where representatives from the civil society, alongside the NTF-Elcac, took part in discussions to gather insights on the matter and foster constructive dialogue among stakeholders,” CHR said.
“This year, CHR is slated to hold its inquiry on Red-tagging to further nuance the dialogue between the government and civil society on the harms brought by these actions to the life, liberty, and security of the public,” it added.
Khan last February 2 said that NTF-Elcac must be abolished because the basis of the task force’s creation — through the past administration’s Executive Order No. 70 — had changed already.
According to Khan, the NTF-Elcac had not considered the peace negotiations sought by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s administration with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
“NTF-Elcac was established about six years ago in a different context. It is outdated. It does not consider the ongoing prospects of peace negotiations,” she said.