Makabayan bloc members skip Senate’s probe into ‘red-tagging’
MANILA, Philippines — Bayan Muna chairperson and former lawmaker Neri Colmenares opted not to attend a Senate hearing on Tuesday into the alleged red-tagging activities of military officials.
The Makabayan bloc only sent a representative, Atty. Maneeka Asistol Sarza, to the hearing of the Senate committee on defense.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, chair of the committee, said members of progressive groups were invited to the hearing, but they did not confirm their attendance.
Sarza, who serves as the legal counsel of the bloc during the hearing, said the lawmakers are undertaking “separate relief missions” following the onslaught of Super Typhoon Rolly.
In his opening statement, Lacson said Bayan Muna chairperson and former lawmaker Neri Colmenares, who was invited to the hearing, requested a separate hearing without the presence of members of the military, especially Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr.
“We received a letter from former Rep. Neri Colmenares requesting that another hearing be held so he may be given an opportunity to attend, but without the presence of the members of the security sector, particularly Lt. Gen. Parlade,” Lacson said.
Colmenares, in his letter to Lacson dated November 1, said he is with his family for Undas and “may not make it to the hearing.”
“Although I will try it, it is more possible for me to attend the next hearing should there be one. In fact, I would like to suggest another hearing this time with those who are the subject of red tagging including celebrities,” Colmenares’ letter further read.
The senator said he would discuss Colmenares’ request with other members of the Senate committee.
The Senate investigation was prompted by a resolution filed by Lacson which sought to exercise his panel’s oversight authority over the defense sector to look into the red-tagging of celebrities, personalities, institutions and organizations by authorities.
The inquiry came after Parlade, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Southern Luzon Command chief, received criticisms over his statement warning actress Liza Soberano from engaging in activities of women’s group Gabriela, which according to him, is a terrorist front.
Parlade also earlier disclosed Colmenares and members of the Makabayan bloc are under surveillance for their alleged link to communist groups.
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