The wife of abducted peasant organizer Steve Abua wrote on Monday an open letter addressed to Vice President Leni Robredo about her concerns regarding her support for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
On Friday, November 26, Vice President Robredo met with Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) officials in a security briefing and she expressed her support for the anti-insurgency campaign of the government and the NTF-ELCAC.
With Abua still missing, his wife, Johanna Abua, maintained in her letter her belief that the government is behind her husband’s forced disappearance.
“Malakas ang paniniwala ko na hawak ng mga armadong pwersa ng gobyerno ang asawa ko,” she said in her open letter to Robredo.
[I strongly believe my husband is being held by the government’s armed forces.]
She also added that fellow members of her husband’s peasant organizations, Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, have experienced the same attacks of red-tagging, harassment, and persecution from the NTF-ELCAC.
“Wala na silang pinipili at kahit sino na lang pala pwede nilang damputin at sabihing NPA,” she added.
[They no longer discern on whom to arrest and accuse as NPA.]
With this, she called on Robredo to not support the NTF-ELCAC and instead push for its abolishment.
In the last part of her letter, she expressed her desire to talk with the Vice President to seek help in finding her husband.
“Gusto ko po sana kayong makausap at humingi ng tulong upang mahanap na si Steve,” she said.
[I wish to speak with you and ask for your help to find Steve.]
Also, she wanted to tell the stories of several victims of the NTF-ELCAC.
“Gusto ko pong ikwento sa inyo at ipakita na totoong mayroong Steve, na marami pang ibang biktima at hindi kami simpleng mga numero lang sa report. Bilang babae, alam ko pong mauunawan ninyo ang aking kalagayan at nararamdaman. Sana mabasa po ninyo ito at mapagbigyan ang hiling ng isang simpleng mamamayan Pilipino,” she added.
[I want to tell you about and show that there really is a Steve and a lot of other victims and we are not simple numbers in a report. As a woman, I know you would understand my situation and how I feel. I hope you read this and allow this request from a simple Filipino citizen.]
Groups dismayed on VP’s support on NTF-ELCAC
Karapatan, a human rights group, expressed disappointment towards Robredo’s support for the function and mandates of the NTF-ELCAC.
The group that asserted that their call towards the abolition of NTF-ELCAC was not because of the “careless statements of some members” but due to the task forces’ framework that “make no distinction between combatants and civilians” which resulted in several “gruesome human rights violations”
“Addressing the root causes of the armed conflict cannot include violations of human rights and International Humanitarian Law. It should focus on breaking the chain of oppression and exploitation that has impoverished and shackled Filipinos,” Karapatan said.
Meanwhile, Senatorial candidates Neri Colmenares, Sonny Matula, and Elmer Labog, in a joint statement, also asked Robredo “to reconsider her position on the NTF-ELCAC.”
“Vice President Robredo should immediately meet with orphaned families of victims of extrajudicial killings, forced surrenders, detained individuals facing trumped-up cases in courts, and red-tagged activists and union leaders,” they said.