Año: NTF-ELCAC got Marcos’ order to proceed with campaign without letup

Frencie Carreon

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Año: NTF-ELCAC got Marcos’ order to proceed with campaign without letup

BRIEFER. National Security Adviser Eduardo Año and Assistant Solicitor-General Angelina Miranda face reporters during the NTF-ELCAC briefer on Wednesday night, May 10.


NTF-ELCAC legal cooperation cluster head Assistant Solicitor-General Angelina Miranda asserts that 'red-tagging' is a 'legally non-existent' word

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has ordered the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) to continue its anti-communist insurgency campaign without letup, National Security Adviser Eduardo Año said on Wednesday night, May 10.

Año said this following the announcement of Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte’s designation as co-vice-chairperson of the NTF-ELCAC, a government arm created by her father, former president Rodrigo Duterte, that gained notoriety because of its penchant for red-tagging citizens and groups critical of those in power.

The Department of Education (DepEd) itself has caught flak for red-tagging critics since the younger Duterte took over as its head.

Año told a media briefer that Marcos’ “marching orders to the NTF ELCAC is clear: Sustain the whole-of-nation approach to peace and development to prevent communist terrorists, their front organizations, and other lawless elements from recruiting, regrouping, and regaining power.”

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“We truth tag, not red tag. We bring you the truth,” said Assistant Solicitor-General Angelina Miranda, the head of the task force’s legal cooperation cluster.

Miranda asserted that “red-tagging” – the practice, often undertaken by State actors, especially law enforcement agencies, in publicly labeling individuals, groups, or institutions as having affiliations with communist rebels – is a “legally non-existent” word. 

This, she said, was the reason why cases of red-tagging filed during the Duterte administration were dismissed, and another filed after Marcos Jr. took over was sent by the Supreme Court to the Court of Appeals and, subsequently, to the Office of the Solicitor General.

In 2021, however, SC justices grilled government lawyers as a result of NTF-ELCAC’s relentless red-tagging, as they pointed out the risks of labeling people and groups without basis.

A year later, the High Tribunal cautioned that inciting violence against judges, in response to the threats made by former NTF-ELCAC spokesperson Lorraine Badoy against a Manila judge, may be seen as contempt of court.

Año said Vice President Duterte’s new task would complement her efforts as education secretary in keeping New People’s Army (NPA) rebels and their support groups away from basic education institutions.

He also said Duterte was seen as “invigorating” by the task force as it works to further weaken communist rebel forces, and proceed “towards sustained development” down to the barangay levels.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Andres Centino said the military has seen the NPA significantly weakened since the NTF-ELCAC was created by Duterte’s father through Executive Order No. 70. From 89 NPA guerrilla fronts in 2019, only 22 are left, he said.

“We were able to dismantle 67 guerrilla fronts,” Centino said.

Of the 22 remaining fronts, he said 20 have weakened and lost their mass base support, and only two others in Northern Samar can still boast of having mass bases.

Centino said this was the reason troops from Western Mindanao were deployed to Northern Samar to finish off the two active guerrilla fronts there. – Rappler.com

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