Human rights groups slammed the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and Surigao del Sur’s San Miguel IP Mandatory Representative Datu Rico Maca for red-tagging students and journalists last week.
In a Facebook post, the NTF-ELCAC labeled SOS, SINAG, and KATRIBU – UP Diliman Chapter (KATRIBU – UPD) as front organizations of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), and the rebel group New People’s Army (NPA).
They also red-tagged various organizations last August 15 after the three alliances criticized the web forum ‘Mga Tingog Sa Yutang Kabilin (Voices From The Ancestral Domains).’ This was organized by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and held last August 5, with the group claiming that Maca was proud to participate as the Indigenous communities “were given a big opportunity to voice out the real situation in their ancestral domain.”
The NTF-ELCAC is a group created by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte in 2018 under Executive Order 70. They were said to be a means to end the five-decade-old communist insurgency. Since then, the task force has been relentlessly red-tagging progressive groups and journalists on social media.
Three days later, Maca accused GMA News reporter Atom Araullo of being biased in his documentary entitled, “Ang Iskul Kong Bakwit.” He later claimed that Araullo is a supporter of supposed “communists.”
Maca, supported by the NTF-ELCAC through their Facebook page, then rejected a part in the documentary about Lumad schools being closed down by the government. He claimed that the schools were training camps for “terrorists” and “rebels.”
Save Our Schools Network (SOS), a pro-right to education alliance, condemned this attack, saying that Maca’s claims have been repeated many times as part of the military playbook to violate and destroy the hopes of the Lumad for education.
“This exposes that Maca has been a follower of the military and not a true Lumad leader who upholds the interest of his tribe,” SOS said in a Facebook post.
IP advocacy group KATRIBU also condemned this attack in another Facebook post, emphasizing their firm stand on fighting for the truth.
“Sa lipunan natin ngayon kung saan kinokontrol ng mga naghaharing – uri ang impormasyong lumalaganap, hindi kailanman aatras ang KATRIBU – UPD sa pagsisiwalat ng katotohanang namamalagi sa buhay ng ating mga kapatid na mga katutubo’t Moro at ng malawakang masang-api,” KATRIBU said.
The task force wrote statements from individuals taht state that progressive organizations are “fronts” and “recruiters” of the CPP-NPA-NDF.
Defend UPLB then reported that there have been several cases of harassment such as death threats among students, employees, and non-government organization (NGO) formations since then.
“While these student leaders are currently doing humanitarian work with their relief efforts during this pandemic, anonymous sources have sent threats of knowing where they live with even more threats of illegal arrests or killing,” the alliance said.
In Davao City, Kilab Multimedia stated that Lumad rights defenders and activists were tagged as “human right violators” and “berdugo” in a vilification poster.
“This could be prelude to murder or to harassment suit if they are kinder and want to make me suffer through other means. I will still assert. But to those whom I care about I want you to know I do care about you enough to fight and resist,” Dr. Jean Lindo, a community medicine practitioner and one of the accused said in her Facebook account.
The College Editors Guild of the Philippines, meanwhile, denounced the order of the Department of Education (DepEd) to close down the Community Technical College of Southeastern Mindanao (CTCSM) in Davao de Oro.
“As the state intensifies its attacks against the Lumad communities amid the pandemic, the Guild urges everyone to call for the revocation of the order to organize and mobilize in providing support and demand a nationalist, scientific, and mass-oriented education,” they said. [P]
Screenshot from National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict