'Eight's not enough': NTF-ELCAC to add more 'regional spokespersons' vs CPP 'propaganda machine'
By Martin Sadongdong / Manila Bulletin
After announcing the roster of its eight primary spokespersons, the National Task Force (NTF) to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) said Saturday, May 15, that it will designate “more” mouthpieces to match the “extensive propaganda machine” of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
Communications Undersecretary Lorraine Marie Badoy, NTF-ELCAC spokesperson for social media affairs and sectoral concerns, said they will delegate a spokesperson in each of the 17 regions across the country. The spokespersons will cascade the directives of the task force at the national level down to the regional task forces.
She said this is the same strategy used by the CPP-NPA to effectively disseminate their messages using their propaganda machinery.
“In order to understand fully the beauty of having more spokespersons, you only need to look at the organizational structure of the propaganda machine of the CPP-NPA-NDF. It’s extensive. They involved sectors of our society, they are in our schools, churches, media, and government,” Badoy told the Manila Bulletin.
“In fact, those eight spokespersons are not enough. We’re going to add so much more. We’re going to add regional spokespersons,” she added.
Last Monday, NTF-ELCAC Vice Chairman Hermogenes Esperon Jr. introduced the new organizational structure of the anti-communist task force with the inclusion of six more spokespersons aside from Badoy and military commander Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr.
The NTF-ELCAC spokespersons now are Parlade for security sector operations; Badoy for social media affairs and sectoral concerns; Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Usec. Jonathan Malaya for local government affairs, barangay development program, and international engagement; and Usec. Severo Catura for international affairs, peace process, and human rights concerns.
Also named spokespersons are Usec. Joel Egco for mass media engagements and as a “fact checker”; Assistant Secretary Celine Pialago for NTF-ELCAC public affairs and information, and youth concerns; lawyer Marlon Bosantog for legal affairs and indigenous peoples’ (IP) concerns and his assistant spokesperson, Kaye Floreindo.
“The messaging is still centralized but we need more spokespersons because the CPP-NPA-NDF has a massive propaganda machine not just in Philippine society but they can go internationally,” she said.
The reorganization of the NTF-ELCAC came after senators and congressmen called for the defunding and audit of the budget of the task force. The calls emanated from Parlade’s accusations against Ana Patricia Non, a community pantry organizer in Quezon City, of having communist links.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, a key ally of the NTF-ELCAC in the Senate, recommended the removal of Parlade as a spokesperson of the task force since he said the designation of a military official to a civilian position is a violation of the Philippine Constitution.
Section 5, Paragraph 4 of the Constitution states that “no member of the armed forces in the active service shall, at any time, be appointed or designated in any capacity to a civilian position in the Government, including government-owned or controlled corporations or any of their subsidiaries.”
Esperon initially vowed to review the request of the lawmakers to remove Parlade in the task force but eventually, the NTF-ELCAC decided to retain him and add six more spokespersons. This was viewed by Lacson as an act of “arrogance” on the part of the NTF-ELCAC
But Badoy defended Parlade’s retention in the task force, saying he “has been a very effective communicator.”
“There’s hardly any ego. Wala talaga (None). You just want to get the job done. I want to reassure Senator Lacson walang arrogance doon (no arrogance is involved there),” Badoy said.
She also claimed that there is no law violated when the NTF-ELCAC chose to retain Parlade in a civilian position, citing an explanation from their legal cluster.
“Ang sinasabi may nilalabag sa Constitution? Ay hindi, wala. Ang legal cluster namin maliwanag doon [that] there’s none because it’s not a plantilla position (They were saying that there are violations in the Constitution? No, there is none, nothing. Our legal cluster is very clear that there’s none because it’s a plantilla position),” she said.