Election period won’t stop gov’t’s peace and order functions


National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) vice chair Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said an election period does not suspend the operation of a legitimate arm of government, especially in maintaining peace and order.

This, as the 12 cluster heads of the body on Wednesday signed and filed their counter affidavits on the various Omnibus Election Code complaints filed against them by the Makabayan Bloc and its allies last March 25.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the 1987 Constitution entrusts the state the maintenance of peace and order, the protection of life, liberty and property, and the promotion of the general welfare, an election period neither suspends the operation of a legitimate arm of government like the National Task Force-ELCAC, nor the government function in carrying out the whole-of-nation-approach and whole-of-government approach in combating the communist-terrorist group which is the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front) especially when President (Rodrigo) Duterte) himself, announces that some parties have links with the CTGs (communist terrorist groups),” he said in a press conference after the filing of the counter affidavits.

Esperon, who is also the National Security Adviser, said an election season does not suspend the state’s function nor render its public officials inutile in carrying out and espousing the President’s opinion, stand, and direction.

“The performance of public officers of their duty to relay the official stand of the President and the administration subsists more so, during an election season,” he added.

Esperon also said the Omnibus Election Code is “neither a ban on public officers’ right to freely express their opinions and views nor a refuge for candidate or parties and groups to be shielded from any expression, statement or action of a public officer especially if done by them in the performance of their duty under the orders and mandate from the President of the Philippines.”

The NTF-ELCAC vice chair added the Omnibus Election Code is to be harmonized with other new and relevant laws and should not be used to penalize public officers who merely implement or comply or reiterate the policy and statements of the President.

“Most importantly, it is the height of irony and injustice when persons or groups cry red-tagging as an election offense, when in fact the complaint that they filed is in itself based on imaginative speculation that all public officers of NTF-ELCAC are automatically guilty of partisan political activity by their mere association with the NTF-ELCAC,” he added.

Esperon also said the complainants’ selective handpicking of public officers of NTF-ELCAC as respondents herein, all without basis and without any allegation and proof of the respondents’ participation as to the overt act alleged, conveys not their sense of justice but rather betrays their biased prejudice and harassment against the duly constituted authorities of the state.

“Beyond mere media hype and trumped up charges, the complainants’ bucket of shallow complaint affidavit, deserves to be junked and dismissed outright by the Honorable Commission on Elections, the Law Department thereof,” he added.

Esperon earlier expressed his support to the 12 cluster heads of the anti-insurgency body who were earlier sued by the Makabayan Bloc and its allies for allegedly violating various provisions of the Omnibus Election Code.

These NTF-ELCAC cluster heads are:

*Strategic Communication (StratCom) Cluster Head Undersecretary Lorraine Marie T. Badoy;

*Sectoral Unification, Capacity Building and Empowerment (SUCBEM), Localized Peace Engagement (LPE), Basic Services (BS) and Local Government Empowerment (LGE) Clusters Head Undersecretary Marlo L. Iringan;

*Situational Awareness and Knowledge Management (SAKM) Cluster Head Director General Alex Paul I. Monteagudo;

*Poverty Reduction, Livelihood and Employment (PRLE) Cluster Head Deputy Director General Gabriel Luis R. Quisumbing;

*Infrastructure and Resource Management (IRM) Cluster Head Undersecretary Maximo L. Carvajal and Assistant Secretary Nonita S. Caguioa;

*Peace, Law Enforcement and Development Support (PLEDS) Cluster Head Undersecretary Cesar B. Yano; *E-CLIP and Amnesty Program (EAP) Cluster Head Undersecretary Reynaldo B. Mapagu;

*International Engagement (IE) Cluster Head Undersecretary Brigido J. Dulay; and;

*Legal Cooperation (LC) Cluster Head Justice Angelita V. Miranda.

The officials were charged by Makabayan Bloc and its party-lists allegedly with violations of Section 261 paragraphs E, I, and O of the Omnibus Election Code.

Some of the party-lists include Bayan Muna, Kabataan Party, Gabriela Women’s Party, Anakpawis, and Act Teachers Party-lists.

The specific provisions state the following:

“Prohibited Acts. – The following shall be guilty of an election offense:

e. Threats, intimidation, terrorism, use of fraudulent device or other forms of coercion…

i. Intervention of public officers and employee…

o. Use of public funds, money deposited in trust, equipment, facilities owned or controlled by the government for an election campaign.”

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

While the NDF has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the Anti-Terrorism Council on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA created in April 1973.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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