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NTF-ELCAC will uphold human rights under new admin, says Deputy NSA Banlaoi

Deputy National Security Adviser Rommel Banlaoi on Friday ensured that the government’s anti-insurgency task force will uphold human rights under the new administration.

At the Pandesal Forum, Banlaoi said he and National Security Adviser (NSA) Clarita Carlos are both "sensitive" about human rights, as both of them came from the University of the Philippines (UP).

“Isa rin sa mga hinihingi ng batas natin ay strict observance of the human rights. Si Dr. Carlos, NSA natin, UP yan, sensitive kami sa human rights. Ako produkto ako ng UP, sensitive ako sa human rights talaga,” he said.

(One of the demands of our law is strict observance of the human rights. Our NSA, Dr. Carlos, she is from UP, we are sensitive about human rights. I am a product of UP, I am really sensitive about human rights.)

“So in the implementation of ELCAC, we will make sure na all the principles of International Human Rights Law and all the principles of IHL will be observed and implemented,” he added.

Banlaoi said the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) — which had been accused of red-tagging during the Duterte administration — aims to improve the observance of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) in security sensitive areas.

If security forces violate the IHL, Banlaoi said they will be held accountable and punished.

He also dismissed some speculations that NTF-ELCAC will be abolished. According to him, the task force will only undergo recalibration and restructuring.

“There is no intention to abolish ELCAC. ELCAC will continue. We will continue all the exemplary practices and we will recalibrate its implementation to address its limitations and overcome its many challenges,” he said.

Banlaoi also clarified that Carlos has nothing to do with the removal of former NTF-ELCAC spokesperson Lorraine Badoy from the task force.

He said Badoy was removed due to the implementation of a memorandum circular declaring vacant all coterminous positions in the government.

“Siya po ay naapektuhan ng Memorandum Circular No. 1 at hindi po siya empleyado ng National Security Council, empleyado po siya ng [Presidential Communications Operations Office],” he said.

Meanwhile, Banlaoi said the possible approach to the proposed peace talks with the rebel group Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) is now being discussed in the government.

However, he refused to divulge more details about the matter.

“Sa ngayon, pinag-uusapan ngayong araw na ito kung ano ang magiging [It is currently being discussed what will be the] approach of the current government when it comes to that issues. I don't want to preempt the decision of the Cabinet,” he said. —KBK, GMA News