Duterte’s war versus communist terror groups is on
The Senate’s call to oust a military general from an ad hoc or multi-sectoral task force on the ground of unconstitutionality exposed the growing rift between our Executive and some legislators in government’s fight versus the Communist insurgency now classified as a terrorist group.
With a new Anti-Terror law, Malacanang launched an all-out war against CPP-NPA and their known sympathizers. The President issued shoot to kill orders and the entire AFP-PNP machinery is mobilized to implement it. The controversial National Task Force To End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) was principally created to remove the presence of these terror-tagged Communists and their “front organizations” in baranggays nationwide.
Those against are crying malicious over the “blacklisting“of individuals or organization critical to this sitting Duterte administration . They insist that targetted victims are legitimate “activists” and “dissenters” standing up against an oppressive government. Freedom of “political beliefs” is guaranteed by the Constitution as long as they are through peaceful and lawful means. Today, mainstream media are awash with “red tagging” accusations, and Lt. Gen Antonio Parlade Jr., NTF ELCAC spokesman is favorite whipping boy.
Senate Minority leader Franklin Drilon says no active member of AFP shall be designated to civilian positions in government under Article 16, Section 5 of the 1987 Constitution. Sen. Panfilo Lacson says NTF-ELCAC is a civilian task force hence Spokesman Parlade should be removed.
But Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana says resignation calls by senators are misplaced, saying NTF-ELCAC is an adhoc Task force, created by EO 30, that is neither a constitutional body nor a product of congressional legislation. He says the Task force can be dissolved or expanded anytime by the President. Moreover, Lt. Gen. Parlade’s designation is just an additional duty without salary, allowance or incentive to constitute double compensation. He insisted that Parlade’s removal would separate AFP from the NTR-ELCAC.
These hard arguments from both sides are expected to further incinerate and will become bloody on the ground as both AFP and PNP are now on war footing against the Communist terror groups.
The lines are already drawn, and we could only hear all arguments, but at the same time respect the positions of both sides, from Sec. Lorenzana’s side of government against that of tagged “communist terrorists” and its front organizations.
But very central to this scenario is the controversial Anti-Terror Act enacted by Congress that carries enough safeguards against rights abuses and illegitimate or illegal military or police operations. Although in question before the Supreme court, that law is already in full effect and being used by both AFP and PNP.
The last time a massive campaign against Communists happened in the 70’s during Marcos’s martial law. Today, it has become more dramatic and highly intense, with government’s primary objective to “end” the Communists’ 50 years or more of thievery, mass murder, terrorism, economic sabotage and liberate all baranggays nationwide.
A tall order as Chairman Jose Maria Sison claims that the CPP and their revolutionary mass movement are invincible and growing strength.
But, a lot of things are happening today in the field, both on simultaneous police- military operations and court issued search and arrest warrants. Perhaps, the Supreme court can help by fast-tracking questions and legalities about the new Anti-Terror law.
Meanwhile, we all have to witness and again be horrified by accusations and counter-accusations of military, police and communists on their conduct of this “ongoing war”. Sadly, the time of talking and negotiations between the two sides are now over.
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