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MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) junked yet again an appeal filed by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) that targeted party-list group Gabriela.
A resolution by the Comelec’s 1st Division dated October 19 denied NTF-ELCAC’s motion for reconsideration (MR), and stood by its original decision on September 9, 2021.
The Comelec pointed out that the deposit accounts that the NTF-ELCAC wanted the commission to look into belong to an entity that is not party to the case.
This poses another roadblock for NTF-ELCAC, whose red-tagging efforts against the opposition have yet to achieve significant success in Philippine courts and institutions.
The timeline of events is as follows:
- August 2, 2021: The NTF-ELCAC asked the Comelec to compel the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) and Metrobank to release information on the deposit accounts of Gabriela Incorporated, an entity that is different from party-list group Gabriela.
- September 2, 2021: The Comelec’s former 2nd Division dismissed NTF-ELCAC’s petition, saying the latter failed to establish “a reasonable connection in aiming the subpoena against the bank accounts.”
- October 14, 2021: NTF-ELCAC filed out of time an MR seeking to reverse the original ruling.
- November 11, 2021: The Comelec’s former 2nd Division again denied NTF-ELCAC’s motion.
- November 22, 2021: NTF-ELCAC again filed an MR.
- October 13, 2022: NTF-ELCAC followed up on their November 2021 motion.
- October 19, 2022: The Comelec’s 1st Division again denied the MR.
“It is also not a proper remedy to assail an interlocutory order which had already been the subject of a motion for reconsideration,” the order signed by presiding Commissioner Socorro Inting read.
In a statement on Sunday, October 23, Gabriela Representative Arlene Brosas said the recent Comelec ruling shows that the case filed by NTF-ELCAC against the group lacked basis.
“With the recent Comelec order, the NTF-ELCAC is now grasping at straws in its allegation of foreign funding, aside from clutching at concocted stories of fake rebels. We are confident that the truth will soon be affirmed and all the lies against us will be debunked,” asserted Brosas, who also serves as assistant minority leader in the House.
The NTF-ELCAC has been persistent on its crackdown against progressive party-list groups, subjecting them to red-baiting and online harassment even without concrete proof.
Aside from Gabriela, the NTF-ELCAC also sought to cancel the party-list registration of Kabataan, which also belongs to the House’s Makabayan bloc.
The state-sponsored vilification of progressive groups resulted in Makabayan’s poorest electoral showing in years, clinching only three seats in the House, down from six seats in the 18th Congress.