13 February 2024
The Filipino migrants and people are elated by the recommendations made by United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of Opinion and Expression Ms. Irene Khan at the end of her mission to the Philippines. We have been demanding Ms Khan’s recommendations for a long time now.
The Ferdinand Marcos Jr government should heed Ms. Khan’s recommendation, chief among which is the abolition of the widely despised and now highly unpopular National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict or NTF-ELCAC.
The NTF-ELCAC has been using the people’s money to violate the right to freedom of opinion and expression and other human rights. Its accusations have gone hand-in-hand with murders and massacres, arrests and imprisonment, and harassment and threats of human rights defenders.
The NTF-ELCAC has been holding seminars in various countries to red-tag and terror-tag migrant organizations that work and fight for migrant Filipinos’ rights and welfare. In the past few years, Migrante-International has monitored NTF-ELCAC-sponsored red-tagging and terror-tagging forums with resources provided by Philippine Embassy and Consulates in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, USA and Canada to name the few.
Migrante-International and other migrant organizations stand for migrant Filipinos’ rights and welfare, decent jobs in the Philippines, as well as changes that are much-needed by the Filipino migrants and people. The NTF-ELCAC equates all these with terrorism, in order to try to silence our demands and dissent.
The NTF-ELCAC’s abolition will enable the reallocation of its immense budget to much-needed government services to migrant Filipinos and poor Filipinos. In both 2022 and 2023, the agency received P10 billion, the auditing of which has proven a challenge to the Commission of Audit itself, because its funds are distributed to different government agencies.
Ms Khan made many recommendations that Migrante-International and other progressive organizations have been calling for: Stop red-tagging by the government. Ensure an inclusive peace process and pursue peace talks. Create a law protecting human rights defenders and improve accountability mechanisms for human rights violations.
Ms Khan’s recommendations provide the Marcos Jr regime a chance to prove its claims of upholding democracy and human rights in the Philippines and cooperatiing with the UN and international bodies in the service of these principles.
This is also a chance for the Marcos Jr regime to prove that it is different from its predecessor — the Rodrigo Duterte regime which has earned a well-deserved international notoriety for violating the freedom of opinion and expression and other basic human rights, and murdering democracy in the Philippines. ###