THE Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) panel has withdrawn its membership from the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
Executive Secretary of the CBCP Commission on Public Affairs Fr. Jerome Secillano confirmed on Monday the CBCP’s departure from being part of the executive committee (ExeCom) of NTF-ELCAC.
“Our engagement remains, but we are no longer in the ExeCom,” said Secilano in an interview with Teleradyo Serbisyo.
“It’s better that we preserve our independence, if we are actually going to engage with them,” he added.
Secillano said they still have “engagements” with NTF-ELCAC, addressing concerns on church people who are being red-tagged.
Despite no longer being a part of the anti-insurgency task force, the membership has allowed CBCP “to tell them the issues on the ground” beyond formal setting.
The withdrawal was first reported by Philstar.com from an anonymous source on Thursday. The BusinessMirror reached out to Secillano at that time but he declined to comment.
CBCP has joined the anti-insurgency task force earlier in September “to address some church issues” in relation to the government, such as the red-tagging of cause-oriented groups and church organizations.
In an informal survey conducted by Caritas Philippines on Facebook, 90.1 percent are against the CBCP Public Affairs Commission’s membership in the NTF-ELCAC.
The survey indicated that respondents were concerned the Church may be co-opted and used to legitimize the NTF-ELCAC’s alleged human rights violations.
“The Church will have a stronger voice in dialoguing with the government outside the NTF-ELCAC by working in solidarity with the poor and other human rights groups,” the survey reported.