By Alliance of Concerned Teachers
January 21, 2020
QUEZON CITY – The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines slammed President Duterte’s granting of P36.439 billion to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), a formation that was built to implement the ‘Whole-of-Nation’ approach to ending insurgency in the country as directed by Duterte’s EO 70.
The task force’s budget was P3 billion more than the P33.2 billion provided for the 2020 pay hike of civilian government employees, and was P20 billion more than the P16 billion 2020 calamity fund, after it was slashed by P4 billion during the budget deliberation. The teachers’ group criticized Duterte’s prioritization of war over people’s welfare.
“We are enraged that the Duterte’s NTF-ELCAC, his main fascist machinery that has militarized the bureaucracy, gets a huge chunk of people’s coffers. Meanwhile, the calamity fund was significantly slashed and the pay hike budget for 1.5 million civilian employees was prudently provided for in the 2020 budget. Such leaves us vulnerable in times of crisis, like now that we are facing the tragedy of the Taal volcano eruption. The government’s neglect has never been more evident, and the people’s collective power ever more powerful as we are left to rely on each other,” said ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio.
Additionally, ACT argues that the people shall likewise unite to hold the Duterte administration accountable for its abandonment of the people and failure to do its duties. ACT further posits that the government ‘kills us twice over – through his wars against the people, especially the poor, and by denying us our basic rights to social and economic services.”
ACT furthered that the NTF-ELCAC not only takes resources away from necessary services to the people, it also poses a threat to democracy as it was allegedly responsible for the series of political attacks against dissenters and those fighting for their rights, such as ACT and other individuals and organizations.
“The NTF-ELCAC and its regional formations have launched a campaign to vilify and red-tag ACT and teacher-unionists in several regions. We’ve documented reports of the said task force holding symposia and fora in which it tags our and other progressive organizations as communist fronts. Our leaders have been subjected to surveillance, threats, and harassments, and then being given copies of EO 70 and being told forced to ‘surrender’ to the government,” exposed Basilio.
Basilio added that the NTF-ELCAC utilizes the entire bureaucracy in its attempts to quell people’s rightful unrest and democratic exercise of rights amid the economic and political crisis befalling the country through vilification, intervention, and fascist measures. ACT said that the task force’s ultimate objective is to establish Duterte’s tyrannical rule, hence the President’s pouring of resources to the NTF-ELCAC.
“Therefore, teachers’ just fight for decent pay, better benefits and services for all serve more than just the economic interests of the people but also contributes to the frustration of Duterte’s drive for absolute power,” declared Basilio.
ACT underscored that the NTF-ELCAC is a fascist machinery that must be dismantled.
“Should there be any sincerity to the government’s desire to end the 51-year war in the country, it should address the roots of armed conflict beginning with opening the peace talks again with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and signing the CASER,” urged Basilio.
CASER is the Comprehensive Agreement for Socio-Economic Reforms, which provides for genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization, among others. It also provides for the granting of decent wages and salaries to workers.