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Protest action photo

Monday, 29 November 2021

iDefend stands firm in its call to abolish the NTF-ELCAC. The agency was created by President Duterte congruent to the enactment of the Anti-Terrorism Law which aimed to decimate the people’s right to protest. The NTF-ELCAC serves as the latest machinery pushing to solidify Duterte’s authoritarian rule, especially among marginalized rural communities.

With terrorist tagging as its modus operandi, the NTF ELCAC emboldened the perpetration of summary killing of activists, environmental defenders, labor leaders, journalists, lawyers among others, who were accused by the Task Force of being members of ‘communist-terrorist’ groups.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reported that the phenomenon of “red-tagging” or labelling individuals or groups (including human rights defenders and NGOs) as communists or terrorists- has posed a serious threat to civil society and the freedom of expression. The UN also reported cases where those who were red-tagged were subsequently killed, while other red-tagged individuals continued to receive death threats and sexually-charged messages on social media.

iDefend is dismayed at how the Vice President could agree with the Task Force’s mandate, when she already has the formula of genuinely addressing the needs of those in the “laylayan”, which is similar to the demands of human rights defenders. The country’s internal conflict was marked by deep socio-political and economic injustices which have fueled more conflict. Sustainable and inclusive peace cannot be achieved by fear mongering, threats and red tagging. It must emanate from the people’s trust and confidence in the government.

Peace has never materialized out of militarist measures.

As we commemorate today the International Day of Women Human Rights Defenders, we reiterate our call for dismantling Duterte’s authoritarian rule and all its attendant structures and policies. We need to put an end to Dutertismo and put in place rights-based governance that will uphold the principles of justice and accountability towards the realization of human rights and dignity for all.