Peace can never be achieved without human freedom and dignity. Armed conflict in the Philippines will not be resolved as long as its systemic roots- poverty, lack of opportunities, and elite rent-seeking and mismanagement of the State - persist. It is for this reason that all attempts to “solve” our country’s peace and order problem through military means are irresponsible, even deadly. Worse, this direction continues to lead to the militarization of our communities, harassment of ordinary people, as well as rampant human rights abuses in our country.
The Alliance of Labor Leaders for Leni (ALL4LENI) reiterates our position that lasting peace will never be accomplished through counter-insurgency. We would like to remind VP Leni Robredo that supporting the initiatives of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) is counter-productive to our desire for a just resolution to conflict. In the popular mind, the NTF-ELCAC is associated with rampant red-tagging, not with localized development projects. Moreover, though people-identified local projects can address some of the communities’ immediate problems, it does not address the root causes of underdevelopment. Instead of a discredited military approach, only by resolving our age-old structural problems that keep millions in a state of poverty and powerlessness do we stand a chance to finally put an end to decades of violence.
The NTF-ELCAC has proven itself to be an enemy of peace. It has embarked on a relentless spree of red-tagging, harassment, and profiling of progressive organizations that fight for the legitimate grievances of many Filipinos. Instead of supposed “terrorists”, the real targets of the “anti-communist” campaign have been ordinary workers, trade unionists, farmers, professionals, and other groups that have tirelessly worked for expanding democracy in our country. The agency has in fact only made things worse for those that mobilize to make the promise of our constitution a reality.
It is for this reason that we strongly urge Vice President Robredo to reconsider her position on the NTF-ELCAC, as well as the government’s broader counter-insurgency campaign. The root causes of armed conflict will be resolved not by soldiers in our offices, but through strong trade unions, job security, living wages, land reform and support for farmers, adequate housing, as well as the protection of our environment and ancestral domains.
As we continue to wholeheartedly support Vice President Robredo’s candidacy, we remain firm on our call for the abolition of the NTF-ELCAC. We believe that such a position is consistent with her support for organized labor, as well as her track record of public service.
27 November 2021