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Philippines counter insurgency force ‘operating with impunity’, UN expert says
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Philippines counter insurgency force ‘operating with impunity’, UN expert says

A United Nations expert on climate transformation and human rights appealed the Philippines on Wednesday to “disband” its anti-communist task force, which he said was “operating with impunity” and sought an independent investigation into its operations.

U.N. Special Rapporteur Ian Fry was talking about the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict or NTF-ELCAC, which then Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte created in 2018 to end half a century of communist insurgency that has stunted growth in several areas of the nation. Human rights parties have several times accused the task force of “red-tagging,” the practice of throwing allegations on enemies or critics of supporting or collaborating with rebels, as a pretext to silence, arrest or even kill them.

The government doesn’t agree that. The task force, under the order creating it, is chaired by the Philippine president, and is composed of cabinet officials, including the military and police chiefs. “It seems crystal clear that ELCAC is doing its work beyond its original mandate, and is red tagging people from the community and indigenous peoples and it shows up as though private financial interests are driving ELCAC to do this,” Fry told reporters at the end of his 10-day visit to the Philippines.