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The UN’s visiting fireman

Manila Standard

Imperious can best describe the UN Special Rapporteur Irene Khan, who spent 10 days in the country and straight off recommended the abolition of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

The 67-year-old Bangladesh-born Bangladeshi and British citizen, the secretary general of the London-based Amnesty International from 2001 to 2009, was immediately given a tongue-lashing by Filipino officials who have been on the ground since.

Ernesto Torres, executive director of NTF-ELCAC immediately said the task force remains relevant in the ongoing peace efforts of the Philippine government.

During her 10-day intensive visit to the country, Khan met with several stakeholders and government officials, including those from the NTF-ELCAC. She had her exit conference on Feb. 2.

Last Friday, Khan said the foundations of NTF-ELCAC’s creation, through then President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order 70 in December 2018, had changed and had not taken into consideration the peace negotiations sought by the current administration with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

We side-sign Torres’ argument: “We will not allow any outsider to dictate (to) us how to fight our wars and to dictate upon us the means to win the peace for our people. We have managed to succeed in our fight against insurgency and terrorism as a nation and as a people.”

“We strongly reject UNSR Irene Khan’s call for the abolition of the NTF-ELCAC. We take offense in her pronouncements against the Philippine government and the NTF-ELCAC,” Torres said.

“This is something that cannot be hijacked nor be undermined by anyone. The NTF-ELCAC will continue to work for peace, unity, and development within the framework of justice and the rule of law.”

Then here comes Senator Imee Marcos who called Khan “meddlesome” after she recommended the abolition..

The 68-year-old Marcos had a bang on when she said, reacting to Khan’s recommendation, “After a mere 10 days in the Philippines, during which she never visited the NTF barangays but only met a chosen few witnesses, she has the knowledge and the right to tell the Philippine government what to do?”

We heard her loud and clear, with our hand, when she said: “Not only are these foreigners meddlesome and out of their depth, but she (Khan) has also threatened that the Philippines’ ‘ambitious’ plan to lead the UN Commission on the Status of Women and obtain a seat on the UN Security Council depends on conforming with her ‘findings.’ Why exactly did we invite her anyway?”

Khan conveniently drew a veil over the figures: thousands of rebels have peacefully returned to the fold of the law, with the government practically crushing the communist insurgency, with only about 1,800 rebels left per military and police figures.

As Senator Marcos said, which we endorse, “It is important that we maintain the NTF-ELCAC’s presence and strengthen its mandate to continue the peaceful rehabilitation of rebel returnees.”

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