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Khan’s visit is counterproductive to anti-terrorism and peace efforts – NTF-ELCAC

February 3, 2024

National Task Force to End Local Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) Executive Director and Undersecretary Ernesto Torres Jr. on Saturday (February 3, 2024) said the exit report of United Nations Special Rapporteur Irene Khan is “counterproductive” that attempts to “hijack” the anti-terrorism and peace efforts of the Philippine government.

“We strongly reject UNSR Irene Khan's call for the abolition of the NTF-ELCAC. We take offense in her pronouncements against the Philippine government and the NTF-ELCAC,” Torres said.

He said that despite Khan’s conferences with various government agencies apprising her on issues concerning freedom of expression and opinion in the country, Torres lamented that she failed to comprehend the government's established and institutionalized mechanisms for anti-terrorism and peace efforts.

“Khan's visit to the Philippines is counterproductive. We felt betrayed. She blindsided the Filipino people,” he said.

In her 10-day tour, the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) received the UN Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression with the intent to showcase to her the milestones that have been attained by the government in the field of press freedom and observance of human rights.

But Torres contends that Khan's visit and subsequent actions have hindered rather than facilitated the ongoing efforts in the Philippines to address local armed conflict.

In her exit briefing, she recommended the abolition of the NTF-ELCAC.

“The answer is a resounding NO. Never again. Her call for the abolition of the NTF-ELCAC is a lame attempt to breathe life to a dying terrorist movement”, Torres said.

Khan’s recommendation was preceded by her series of engagements with groups that are mostly anti-government and with personalities who are affiliated with, if not members, of the front organizations of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

“She was invited here for a different purpose. She seems to come here with an agenda to undermine and demolish the NTF-ELCAC without understanding the essence of the NTF-ELCAC,” Torres said.

With her obvious partiality, Torres said the Philippine government was hijacked because Khan allowed herself to be used by those who want the government and the NTF-ELCAC to fail.

“Her call for the abolition of the NTF-ELCAC is a lame attempt to breathe life to a dying terrorist movement. Contrary to the ill-informed opinion of Khan that the NTF-ELCAC is ‘outdated’, the NTF-ELCAC remains as the single most relevant task force in the Philippines whose accomplishments will reverberate across many generations of Filipinos and whose achievements have brought back the pride to the Filipino as a people and as a nation,” Torres stressed.

He said the NTF-ELCAC is, and will always be relevant. “This is something that Khan failed to comprehend.”

Torres pointed out that the government “would not listen to anyone who betrays us, hijacks our ideas and empowers the terrorist movement.”

“We will not allow any outsider to dictate us how to fight our wars and to dictate upon us the means to win the peace for our people. We have managed to succeed in our fight against insurgency and terrorism as a nation and as a people,” he said.

“This is something that cannot be hijacked nor be undermined by anyone. The NTF-ELCAC will continue to work for peace, unity, and development within the framework of justice and the rule of law,” he added.

Ref: Joel M. Sy Egco


February 3, 2024


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