SEN. Maria Josefa Imelda “Imee” Marcos has firmly rejected the call of United Nations Special Rapporteur Irene Khan to dismantle the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac).
In a statement on Sunday, Marcos described Khan as a “threatening foreign meddler” and criticized her call as “supremely presumptuous.”
Khan recently visited the Philippines for 10 days to assess the state of rights to freedom of opinion and expression in the country. She concluded her mission on February 2.
Marcos questioned Khan’s authority, saying, “After a mere 10 days in the Philippines, during which she never visited the NTF barangay (villages) but only met a chosen few witnesses, she has the knowledge and the right to tell the Philippine government what to do?”
The senator also expressed concern over Khan’s statement that the Philippines’ aspirations to lead the UN Commission on the Status of Women and obtain a seat on the UN Security Council could be affected by its response to her findings. Marcos questioned why Khan was invited in the first place, stating, “Not only are these foreigners meddlesome and out of their depth, she has also threatened that the Philippines’ ambitious plan to lead the UN Commission on the Status of Women and obtain a seat on the UN Security Council depends on conforming with her findings. Why exactly did we invite her anyway?”
Regarding Khan’s call to dismantle the NTF-Elcac, Marcos argued that it would be “counterproductive, even dangerous.” She highlighted the success of the government’s efforts in reintegrating thousands of rebels into society, stating, “Thousands of rebels have peacefully returned to the fold of the law. The government has practically won against the communist insurgency, with only about 1,800 rebels left, according to our military and police.”
Marcos emphasized the importance of maintaining the NTF-Elcac’s presence and strengthening its mandate to continue the peaceful rehabilitation of rebel returnees.
During her visit, Khan met with officials from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to discuss freedom of opinion and expression issues in the Philippines. The CHR stated that it is expected that Khan’s visit will help identify opportunities and challenges related to freedom of opinion and expression in the country, which will then be used to develop recommendations to address any gaps.
Khan’s findings will be included in her report, which will be presented during the 59th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in June 2025.
Country visits by UN special rapporteurs are part of the special procedures established by the organization. These visits aim to allow rapporteurs to report and advise on a range of human rights concerns from a thematic or country-specific perspective on behalf of the Human Rights Council.
In addition to meeting with government institutions like the CHR, Khan also engaged with representatives from civil society organizations and private companies, as arranged by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. She also conducted field visits in Baguio and Cebu to gain a broader understanding of the human rights situation in the Philippines.
Source: The Manila Times