GROUPS on Thursday raised concerns over the appointment of Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio as co-vice chairperson of the government’s anti-communist task force, saying it could affect her other role as Education secretary and lead to misuse of public funds.
With her new post, Ms. Duterte could have discretion “over more confidential and intelligence funds,” ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France L. Castro said in a statement, citing the confidential and intelligence funds that she already has at the Department of Education and Office of the Vice President (OVP).
“Under the pretext of whole-of-nation approach and supposedly for peace and security, it is likely that she will have discretion on the confidential and intelligence funds of other agencies under the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), that is aside from the overall budget of the task force at P6.3 billion for 2023,” Ms. Castro added.
Ms. Duterte confirmed her appointment as NTF-ELCAC co-vice chairperson on Wednesday night, saying it is “a show of force — a clear, strong, and powerful statement and warning — against the enemies of the state.”
She will be the co-vice chairman of National Security Adviser Eduardo A. Año.
Last year, Congress allotted P500 million in confidential funds to the OVP and another P150 million to the Education department, which Ms. Duterte heads.
Being a top leader of the task force would deprive the education sector of Ms. Duterte’s “full and complete attention,” policy analyst Michael Henry Ll. Yusingco said in a Facebook Messenger chat.
“The current sad state of our education sector is one of many intergenerational problems we are facing. It is probably the most crucial one, with reforming the health sector a close second,” he said.
“This means, this job needs a fulltime department secretary. One who can devote her or his complete attention in addressing the multitude of issues afflicting our education sector,” he added.
“Human resources is our most vital asset. But this appointment seems to disregard this fact.”
The NTF-ELCAC, which was created by her father, former President Rodrigo R. Duterte in 2018, has been criticized for accusing activists and personalities critical of the government as members of the local Maoist movement.
In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDefend) fears that the appointment of Ms. Duterte to the task force could further “eliminate democratic dissent” in the Philippines.
“Her mission to destroy all opposition to her political ambitions really starts here at the NTF-ELCAC, the leading government agency in terrorist tagging of legitimate human rights groups and individuals,” iDefend said via Messenger chat when asked to comment on Ms. Duterte’s new post.
The group said current and future efforts of the government to comply with human rights obligations including the recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review and the United Nations Technical Cooperation Program will always face challenges due to the existence of the NTF-ELCAC.
“iDefend calls for its immediate abolition.” — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza