Lorenzana to Makabayan bloc: Condemn CPP-NPA and we’ll stop red-tagging
MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Tuesday challenged the Makabayan bloc to condemn the communist movement, which security forces have alleged to be working together to oppose the government.
At a House hearing for next year’s budget of the Department of National Defense, Lorenzana was asked by Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate to put an end to the government’s red-tagging of their group or show evidence to support the allegations that they work with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, New People’s Army (NPA).
“If you have evidence, in the proper forum dalhin niyo, huwag ninyong ipagkalat ‘yan. Huwag kayong mag-blanket vilification campaign against us. We have to put a stop to this,” Zarate said.
But Lorenzana said that the red-tagging would only stop if Zarate’s group would condemn outright the CPP-NPA.
“Condemn the CPP-NPA. Stop these atrocities, condemn ‘yung armed struggle na sinasabi ni Joma Sison and we will also stop what we are doing,” he said.
“Kung nasan marami ‘yung NPA, andun din kayo… ‘Pag nanununog sila ng equipment, silent lang kayo. How can we disassociate you from this group?” he added.
Some of the other groups that the government has linked to the CPP-NPA include Kabataan, Gabriela, Anakpawis, Karapatan, and Alliance of Concerned Teachers.
Lorenzana said it was CPP founder Jose Maria Sison who first labeled these groups as front organizations of NPA.
‘We have proof’
The defense chief said that they have gathered information to show that groups belonging to the Makabayan bloc are associated with the communist rebels.
“We have proof, we have evidence that the Makabayan groups are being used by the NPA to strengthen their ranks,” he said.
But ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro argued that the government was automatically identifying protesters as communist rebels.
“Ang problema po sa inyo, pinagsasama ang combatant at non-combatant. Lahat ng nagra-rally ay tinuturing na terorista,” she said.
Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago, meanwhile, also took the opportunity at the hearing to criticize the government’s red-baiting of the youth activists.
“I’d like to strongly condemn the statement made by the DND Secretary saying that participation in mass demonstrations are tantamount to being linked to those waging armed resistance in this country,” she said.
She challenged the government to show evidence linking them to NPA: “These are very dangerous statements, dangerous mindset. Para kayong nagwi-witch hunt sa kabataan.”
Lorenzana said he supported public gatherings of students but not to the point of bringing down the government.
“Joining a rally per se is not a crime. I myself support the activism of students, but when these students and join armed struggle to the violently overthrow the government, ‘yun ang sinasabi namin… Nakikita namin ‘pag may nagra-rally may flag ang CPP-NPA. So anong pagkakaintindi namin? They are supporting CPP-NPA,” he said. /kga
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