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Philippines to raise anti-insurgent budget elevenfold

'Red-tagging' task force draws fire from critics at home and abroad

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte created the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict in 2018 to supposedly counter communist propaganda, but it has been criticized as a tool for cracking down on political opponents. (Photo courtesy of Government of the Philippines)

NEW YORK -- The Philippine government is beefing up the budget of an anti-communist task force that has made headlines by accusing celebrities of ties to alleged radical groups, part of a counterinsurgency campaign that overseas critics say has become a tool in President Rodrigo Duterte's crackdown on political opponents.

The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), created by Duterte in 2018 to counter communist propaganda, will see its budget raised more than elevenfold next year to 19.13 billion Philippine pesos ($396.7 million) from 1.7 billion pesos in 2020. But opponents say the government has not told the public what the money will be spent on.

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