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January 24, 2024

MANILA - - The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) participated in a dinner hosted by the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) and other government agencies for Ms. Irene Khan, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of freedom of opinion and expression. The dinner took place on January 23, 2024, at the Barbara’s Heritage restaurant in Intramuros, Manila, as part of Ms. Khan's official visit to the country.

During the welcome dinner, participants had the opportunity to discuss the freedom of opinion and expression situation in the country, as well as to explore the challenges and best practices related to the protection of freedom of expression and speech as a fundamental human right. Ms. Khan's visit marks the third time a United Nations Special Rapporteur has been accommodated by this administration, signifying recognition and appreciation for the country's democratic system and progressive agenda.

Ms. Khan also expressed her gratitude for the warm welcome and open dialogue with the government, emphasizing her task to listen and understand the context in which the government is working. She highlighted the importance of multiple perspectives that it is essential to learn and listen to both governmental viewpoints and community voices. Understanding these varied perspectives contribute to a more comprehensive grasp of the issues. She also stressed, “I would like to understand your perspective, I hope you will understand mine. And together we can move to this extremely difficult issue of freedom of opinion and expression and further make it stronger."

The National Task Force has expressed its appreciation for Ms. Khan's constructive engagement and cooperation, reaffirming its dedication to identifying opportunities for collaboration to enhance the organization's mechanisms. Additionally, Undersecretary Ernesto C Torres Jr. briefly discussed how E.O.70, signed on December 4, 2018, established the whole-of-government approach and whole-of-nation participation anchored in good governance, effectively achieving the almost impossible task of ending the long-standing local armed conflict with the terrorist CPP-NPA that had persisted for over 50 years. USec Torres also emphasized in his closing message, "This is an opportune moment as we are transitioning from a security-heavy approach to an approach focused on attaining unity, lasting peace, and sustainable development. We have 12 clusters in the NTF-ELCAC with a collective goal of safeguarding freedom of expression and protecting civic space, which are fundamental rights of utmost importance. With this visit and the scheduled meeting, we can gain insights and identify opportunities for collaboration to finally put an end to this long-standing armed conflict in the country."


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