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MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Sara Duterte, who is also the country’s education secretary, has been designated co-vice chairman of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), a government agency infamous for its red tagging.
The announcement was made on Wednesday, May 10, during a briefing before Palace reporters. The task force had just finished its executive committee meeting.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is the task force chairman as the chief executive, while Eduardo Año is Duterte’s co-vice chairman as the National Security Adviser. Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin presided over Wednesday’s meeting since Marcos is now in Indonesia for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations leaders summit.
“Her unstinting commitment at the cause (sic) of the NTF-ELCAC will undoubtedly be invaluable to the task force,” said Año.
Año said Duterte’s concurrent role as education secretary would play into the task force’s goals, citing her previous efforts to shut down schools supposedly linked to the communist movement.
Last September, Duterte posted a YouTube video speaking in Mandarin congratulating the 73rd founding anniversary of the People’s Republic of China and its paramount leader Xi Jinping. Aside from being president Xi is also the general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.
Duterte, daughter of the former president who created the task force, has been red-tagging critics, especially those who belong to progressive groups.
Año said there is no need for a delineation of tasks because their secretariat is one and the same. “I have worked with Vice President Sara [Duterte[ before when she was in Davao and there will be no problem for us working together,” he said.
“We proceed (sic) that NTF-ELCAC will be reinvigorated and more active [with Duterte as co-vice chairperson],” added the former military chief and interior chief.
In a statement, Tina Palabay, secretary-general of human rights alliance Karapatan, criticized Duterte’s appointment. “The designation of VP Sara Duterte, serial and notorious redtagger, as NTF-ELCAC co vice chair reinforces the fascist character of the task force. It only shows the greater need for the abolition of this TF that has been responsible for numerous cases of human rights violations,” she said. – Rappler.com