Año’s call to LGUs to join anti-leftist rally hit
MANILA, Philippines – Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago has slammed Interior Secretary Eduardo Año for using his position in urging town mayors to send people to a rally against activists and left-leaning groups.
Elago on Wednesday shared in her Facebook account a copy of a memorandum signed by Año where he “enjoined” mayors in the National Capital Region (NCR), and the Cavite towns of Imus, Bacoor, and Dasmariñas to send participants to the rally.
Año said that joining the Rally for Peace and Prosperity, led by the League of Parents in the Philippines (LPP) and Hands Off Our Children (HOOC) on Wednesday, at the Mendiola Peace Arch — is part of the “whole of nation” campaign by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
“This is how Retired General, now Secretary Eduardo Año, exploits the power and influence of the Department of Interior and Local Government to militarize the civilian bureaucracy, and sow divide and terror to suppress dissent,” Elago said in her post.
“[…] Enjoining LGUs to support and send participants to a rally of an NTF-ELCAC-instigated and funded organization spreading lies and hate against this representation as a member of the independent minority and for our critical stance on policies affecting the youth, the nation and our future,” she added.
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Spokesperson Usec. Jonathan Malaya confirmed that the documents Elago posted were legitimate, but clarified that there is nothing wrong with Año’s move.
“In what sense?” Malaya told INQUIRER.net in a text message, after being asked on the legality of the memorandum. “For encouraging LGUs to send participants to a rally for peace? We don’t see any problem here.”
“The rally implements the whole of government approach where all government agencies including the LGUs (and not just the military and the police) are mobilized in support of the government’s peace agenda,” he added.
Elago meanwhile said in a separate message that they would investigate the memo involved.
Both LPP and HOOC have been known to stage anti-left rallies, for supposedly using the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) alleged fronts in recruiting children to take up arms.
In the undated memorandum, Año said that the mayors should coordinate with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) regional officials and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
“Above-mentioned local government units are enjoined to support and send participants to the upcoming Rally for Peace and Prosperity […] You are directed to coordinate with the DILG Regional Offices and PNP counterparts for better complementation and coordination,” Año said.
Año’s memorandum also served as a basis for the memorandum by DILG-NCR Regional Director Maria Lourdes Agustin dated Tuesday, January 28, where the latter encouraged DILG’s city directors in the region to discuss deployment to the rally.
“All concerned city directors and MLGOO are hereby encouraged to: coordinate with respective mayors to send participants to the said Rally for Peace and Prosperity; and coordinate with PNP for better complementation and coordination,” Agustin’s memorandum reads.
Elago’s Makabayan bloc and government officials have been at odds over allegations that the party-list groups were part of efforts to recruit student-warriors for the New People’s Army (NPA). The confession of some alleged ex-NPA members even sparked a Senate investigation.
The lawmakers denied recruiting people for NPA, with the supposed missing student-activist saying that she only fled home, and not to join the communist rebels.
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