NTF-ELCAC 'attacks' Lacson in socmed post, then deletes it

The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) appeared to have taken a swipe at Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson, a known supporter of the anti-communist task force who has since started being critical to the group.

Senator Panfilo Lacson announces his bid for presidency in the 2022 elections on September 8, 2021. (Offfice of Senator Lacson)

In a now-deleted Facebook post, the NTF-ELCAC quoted an alleged former cadre of the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People's Army - National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP) who seemed to insult Lacson by calling him names.

"Former CPP-NPA-NDF cadre Jeffrey 'Ka Eric' Celiz says one of the most vocal critics of NTF-ELCAC, Sen. Ping Lacson, formerly known as 'Kuratong Baleleng,' is now called 'Boy Semento' because of his son's alleged involvement in cement smuggling," the NTF-ELCAC posted on Facebook last Monday.

(Screenshot from Philippine Army 3rd Infantry Division)

Kuratong Baleleng was an organized crime syndicate that became controversial in 1995 after 11 of its members were killed by the Presidential Anti-Crime Commission (PACC) then led by Lacson.

Meanwhile, Lacson's son, Panfilo "Pampi" Lacson Jr. who managed the cement firm Bonjourno Trading, was implicated in the alleged smuggling of "multi-billion" peso worth of cement in 2017. The senator had repeatedly denied the allegation.

The NTF-ELCAC's post was eventually shared by the Western Visayas-based 3rd Infantry "Spearhead" Division (3ID) on its official Facebook account, which put them at the receiving end of criticism from a former general for supposedly being political.

Lacson, who opposed the NTF-ELCAC's proposed budget increase in 2022, is running for presidency in 2022.

(Screenshot from retired Gen. Rafael Valencia)

"Is the Armed Forces of the Philippines now allowing its units to be involved in highly partisan political activities? I believe this is already crossing the line and is very dangerous," said former AFP Inspector General and now retired general Rafael Valencia.

Valencia, who served as the AFP inspector general from 2017 to 2018 and is a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) "Maharlika" Class of 1984, published a screenshot of the 3rd ID's shared post on his account.

The retired general urged the AFP leadership to "take necessary action" on the matter.

The AFP has been repeatedly called out for engaging in social media activities that seemed to violate their mandate of being apolitical. The 1987 Constitution states that "no member of the military shall engage, directly or indirectly, in any partisan political activity, except to vote."

Last year, more than 100 fake Facebook pages and accounts linked to the military and police were shut down for engaging in "coordinated inauthentic behavior."

The accounts were found to have made malicious posts that targeted activists, dissidents, and critics of the government among others.

In response, the AFP had promised to strengthen the implementation of their "social media policies" to remind military units of their limits but lapses were still being committed to this day.