DAVAO CITY – Vice President Leni Robredo’s change of stance on the government’s controversial anti-communist task force prompted a teacher from Caraga to write her about how she was arrested and harassed by this group.
Rosanilla ‘Lai’ Consad, an assistant principal of San Vicente National High School in Butuan City, and secretary of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers Union Region 13, wrote a public letter to the vice president which was posted by ACT Teachers on their Facebook page on Wednesday.
Robredo, who is running for the presidency in 2022, earlier said she is in favor of abolishing National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict for its abuses on human rights. But in a meeting with military officials last week, she expressed support to its mandate to address the roots of armed conflict.
“I am worried about your support to NTF-ELCAC and how you backed off from your first statement that you agree to dismantle this task force,” Consad said in her letter to the vice president written in Filipino.
She narrated how she was arrested last March without any clear charges.
“Last March, I was slapped with a trumped up case and illegally arrested. On my second day in detention, not one of those who interrogated me informed me what charges were filed against me. From the police to those agents who claimed to be from NTF-ELCAC, they all asked about my affiliation to ACT. They kept asking the same questions.
“I finally asked them: ‘Are you not going to ask me where I was when that ambush happened? Or what do I know about it?”
According to Karapatan Caraga, Consad was accused by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) and Philippine National Police-Butuan on a case alleging her joining a New People’s Army ambush in Poblacion, Santiago in Agusan del Norte dated November 21, 2020.
Consad said the case was dismissed in June, two months after her arrest, as the case against her “lack of proof or evidence”.
“This whole experience is proof of the NTF-ELCAC’s power and abuse of the law to harass me and others who, like me, are standing up for our rights,” said Consad.
“I am just one of the many teachers who are victims of human rights violations and attacks on academic freedom made by (President) Duterte and NTF-ELCAC.”
Another teacher, Ophelia Tabacon, who is union president of ACT Region 10, and 16 other activists were acquitted recently from trumped-up cases for allegedly joining an NPA attack in Sibagat, Agusan del Sur.
Consad has also been subject to surveillance and intimidation months before her arrest, according to ACT. The group said intelligence agents visited her in school last November 14, 2020 and warned her and her husband that they are included in a certain ‘hit list’.
The controversial task force have shut down Lumad schools alleging them as fronts of communist rebels, and also went around schools nationwide pulling out alleged ‘subversive books’ from libraries.
The Senate has slashed the budget of NTF-ELCAC for 2022 down to P4 billion as it could only liquidate 26 of its 2,000 barangay projects in 2021.
Groups such as the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform is pushing for NTF-ELCAC’s abolition as it has become “a hindrance to the promise of peace”.