Abolish the NTF-ELCAC and reallocate its P19 billion fund as aid for the lockdown and typhoon-stricken poor

The National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas today joins the calls of various sectors to reallocate the P19 billion fund of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) as aid for poor Filipinos who are now doubly burdened by the economic lockdown and the recent typhoon Bising.

We propose further that the task force should all together be abolished. Its officials who were responsible for the malicious red-tagging of activists, government critics, and organizers of well-meaning humanitarian initiatives such as community pantries must also be accountable for endangering innocent civilians in the name of their anti-communist hysteria.

The NTF-ELCAC is anti-people and serves no one else but Duterte. It is his civil-miliary junta which he wields against his critics and opponents. The irresponsible and dangerous statements by its spokespersons Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. and Lorraine Badoy expose it to be a rotten and fascist-minded institution undeserving of the people’s money.

The P19-billion fund of the NTF-ELCAC forms only part of the Duterte regime’s multi-billion war chest for counter-insurgency. Throughout the country the regime is launching focused military operations, which can cost at least P200 million a year per region. In Eastern Visayas alone at least 16 towns are under attack by the FMOs of the 8th Infantry Division; one FMO has lasted for two years. Month- and year-long Retooled Community Support Program operations continue in hundreds of barrios in all provinces. Such expenses for combat and psychological warfare operations, that not only ignore the roots of the armed conflict but rather exacerbate them, are a complete waste of resources.

Compared to Duterte’s multi-billion war chest, mere cents were allocated for the millions of poor Filipinos whose livelihoods were destroyed by the Duterte regime’s reckless economic lockdown and most recently by Typhoon Bising. In spite of the millions of workers who lost their jobs in the mere two weeks of the enhanced community quarantine, aid was measly, slow and insulting. More are set for worse hunger and poverty as thousands of peasants were displaced and hundreds of millions of pesos worth of agricultural assets were destroyed due to the storm.

Such disproportionate spending reflects the tyranny and callousness of the Duterte regime. It is blind not only to the poor but also to a public health care system that continues to limp through the pandemic. The sick are sleeping in line while waiting to be admitted into hospitals already operating in full capacity. Vaccination is limited and moves at a snail’s pace, as the number of infections and deaths rise unabated.

The people must continue to demand the defunding of Duterte’s war chest. Immediate and commensurate economic relief for the poor, along with a strengthened scientific response to the pandemic which include mass testing, immediate and systematic contact tracing, free hospitalization, and mass vaccination, must be prioritized in terms of budget appropriations. #

Abolish the NTF-ELCAC and reallocate its P19 billion fund as aid for the lockdown and typhoon-stricken poor