Marcos Jr. would pursue Duterte’s NTF-ELCAC

Pending resolution of the petitions for his disqualification, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son of the dictator ousted by the people’s peaceful uprising 36 years ago, will have his name in the Comelec list of presidential candidates in the May 9 national elections. If he wouldn’t be disqualified, what could be expected should he win?

Last week, he made an unequivocal statement: Hailing President Duterte’s much-assailed counterinsurgency platform – the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) – he pushed for its continuation with bigger funding.

“The NTF-ELCAC is good. Even if its budget was slashed, its performance did not change,” Philippine STAR quoted him as saying.

“I think we should continue that … We have to invest in success. If the program was successful, let’s put more funds into it, let’s continue what they are doing,” he added.

Progressive groups quickly reacted to his statements, however, each one sharply debunking his stance.

Martial law survivors in the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law (CARMMA) stated:

“Marcos Jr. has the effrontery to claim that the barbaric NTF-ELCAC is good, even if the agency has run roughshod over the Bill of Rights and due process, and [has] all but fallen into disrepute.” This wasn’t surprising, they added, since the father used the power of the military “to the hilt to maintain his dictatorial regime.”

“In courting the military and the NTF-ELCAC this early in the game, Marcos Jr. has only served to expose himself… It is a stark reminder of what the Filipino people can expect should the dictator’s son win the presidency,” CARMMA warned.

Human rights alliance Karapatan was likewise scathingly blunt. Marcos Jr.’s “pledge to pour more of our taxes to the NTF-ELCAC if he wins the presidency,” it said, only makes it clear that he is set to attain two objectives: 1) “Ensure the continuity of his father’s and Duterte’s legacies of red-tagging, extrajudicial killings and trumped-up charges against activists, human rights defenders and political dissenters;” and 2) “block efforts to exact justice and accountability for both Marcos Sr.’s and Duterte’s crimes against the Filipino people.”

Karapatan reminded the public that the Commission on Audit has flagged several government agencies in their use of NTF-ELCAC funds, and that only 26, or one percent, of its 2,318 barangay projects, allotted P16.2 billion under its Barangay Development Program (BDP), were completed in 2021. Yet, for this year, the BDP is given another P17.1 billion. At least six senators have moved to defund NTF-ELCAC for its relentless red-tagging frenzy.

Addressing candidates in the May 9 elections, Karapatan urged them to take a firm stand to abolish the NTF-ELCAC and “oppose all efforts for a Marcos restoration and a Duterte extension in power.”

Pilgrims for Peace, a consistent advocate for sustaining the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations – which Duterte unilaterally terminated after gaining “unprecedented advances” (per his own negotiating team) in less than a year of talks – noted that Marcos Jr.’s “fascist bent is the poisoned fruit of his father’s dictatorship.”

The Marcos dictatorship, they said, relied on “tyrannical rule to quell one and all dissent and resistance from the people” and “transmogrified” the Armed Forces of the Philippines into a “highly corrupt fascist institution defending the ruling elite.”

“Marcos Jr.’s candidacy threatens the protection of human rights and the efforts to attain a just and lasting peace in the country,” warned the group that has a notable church people representation.

They stressed that the NTF-ELCAC has a “track record of red-baiting and witch hunting; weaponization of the law against critics and dissidents; the orchestration of bloody military campaigns against civilians in the guise of counterinsurgency; odious tactics of fake surrenders, fake encounters and fake barangay development projects… and virulent opposition to a peace agenda that seeks to resolve the armed conflict by addressing its root causes.”

In this regard, Marcos Jr. is no different from Duterte, Pilgrims for Peace noted. They called on peace advocates to “exert all efforts to prevent a return to power of the Marcoses.”

As regards the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations, the group cited the first significant accord forged as far back as 1998: the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). Hailed by the European Union as a landmark agreement, they pointed out, CARHRIHL was “a result of the long struggle for the respect and promotion of human rights of the Filipino people, especially during the dark years of Martial Law.”

Sadly, the CARHRIHL has not been implemented, mainly because the government has withheld cooperation. Besides this fact, Pilgrims for Peace further lamented:

“The peace negotiations were already heading towards resolving the roots of unpeace in the country with the crafting, and hopefully signing, of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER)” when Duterte abruptly stopped the peace talks. It turned out he had “opted for all-out war and created the NTF-ELCAC, an instrument of state fascism and terrorism.”

“Six years under Duterte have been a cruel ordeal,” Pilgrims for Peace said. They expressed dread that Marcos Jr., running in tandem with Duterte’s daughter, “would certainly continue, if not amplify, the anti-insurgency campaign of the current regime. This means that the deplorable human rights situation will persist, if he wins the presidency.”

The dreadful prospects of a Marcos Jr. winning the presidency, along with Sara Duterte as his vice president, has been reinforced by recent statements from each of them. Presuming the tandem’s winning, Sara Duterte was quoted, in a virtual forum Wednesday, as categorically stating: “Gagamitin ko ang aking opisina – Office of the Vice President – para kausapin ang ating Congress and the Senate of the Philippines to make military service for all 18-year-olds, male and female, mandatory in the country.”

Then, in a social media interview Thursday, Marcos Jr. disclosed that Sara Duterte wanted to be appointed as secretary of national defense. Need I say more?

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Published in Philippine Star
January 22, 2022

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