MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (HRC) has urged the government's anti-communist body to review and evaluate its mandate, echoing the position of United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur Irene Khan, who called for the working group's abolition .

In a statement released on Monday, the HRC said it recognizes the recommendations of the UN special rapporteur on the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) – which Khan said should be abolished as outdated .

The CDH said it stands ready to help GTN-Elcac ensure that the working group ultimately fulfills its mandate while adhering to human rights standards.

“The Commission also recognizes the recommendation regarding the mandate of the [NTF-Elcac]. We extend our reminder to responsible colleagues that Philippine democracy thrives at the center of promoting and protecting the dignity of every Filipino, including their right to participate in public governance,” the HRC said.

“As such, we urge GTN-Elcac to review its mandate and assess how it can meet the current needs of the country. CDH is more than ready to present policy recommendations and provide relevant training in line with our advocacy mandate to further equip GTN-Elcac in fulfilling its mandate through a human rights-based approach,” he added.

The HRC also assured the public and Khan that the commission is doing its part to verify complaints about red-tagging, which the UN special rapporteur said typically originates from people affiliated with the government.

“It should be noted that the CDH held a forum on red marking on December 6, 2023, where civil society representatives, together with GTN-Elcac, participated in discussions to gather knowledge on the subject and promote constructive dialogue among stakeholders,” CDH said.

“This year, the CDH should carry out its inquiry into red marking to further nuance the dialogue between the government and civil society about the damage caused by these actions to the life, freedom and safety of the public,” he added. .

Khan said on February 2 that NTF-Elcac should be abolished because the basis for creating the working group – through Executive Order No. 70 of the previous administration – had already changed.

According to Khan, the NTF-Elcac did not consider the peace talks sought by the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

“NTF-Elcac was created around six years ago in a different context. It is outdated. It does not consider the ongoing prospects of peace negotiations,” she said.

—WITH REPORT BY BARBARA GUTIERREZ (INTERN)

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