Activists frown on Senate hearing on red-tagging | Inquirer News

Activists frown on Senate hearing on red-tagging

/ 05:40 PM November 03, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Several activist groups have cried foul over the Senate’s hearing about the recent red-tagging incidents, as they believe it has become an avenue for government forces to allegedly spread lies regarding their communist witch hunt.

According to rights group Karapatan — one of the groups often tagged as legal fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army, and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP) — the Senate hearing on Tuesday became a roadshow for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay claimed that no new evidence to prove activists’ links, especially that of Makabayan bloc’s supposed ties to the CPP-NPA-NDFP, was presented during the hearing.


“Except for the insightful and independent interventions of Senators Risa Hontiveros, Francis Pangilinan, and Grace Poe, as well as the statement of Makabayan legal counsel Maneeka Sarza, the rest of the hearing reeks of malicious accusations and unfounded statements already debunked by court rulings, including the recent decisions of the Supreme Court and Department of Justice on the baseless cases driven by the NTF-ELCAC,” Palabay stressed.


“This hearing has become a big echo chamber of sorts for these bloodthirsty militarists and their rabid lies,” she added.

Both Palabay and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary-general Renato Reyes also believe that the hearing is ill-timed, considering that Congress’ focus should primarily be on helping families affected by the successive typhoons that hit Bicol Region and Southern Luzon.


Palabay added that the COVID-19 pandemic is also a pressing reason for the Senate to shun such hearings and instead focus on responding to the health crisis.

“The hearing is a great disservice for the people as it comes 2 days after the strongest typhoon of the year, Rolly, destroyed areas of Bicol. The top defense officials in the hearing are supposedly the heads of frontline agencies, yet they are busy engaging in rumor-mongering, red-tagging and terrorist-labeling,” Reyes explained.

“At a time when the nation is reeling from the destruction brought by typhoons and the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Senate hearing […] is not only ill-timed: it is clear a foreboding of the things to come when the Anti-Terrorism Act is fully implemented,” Palabay noted.

During the hearing, senators asked military officials, including controversial Armed Forces Southern Luzon Command chief Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., who later drew flak for allegedly red-tagging several celebrities.

Parlade was accused of issuing a veiled threat when she said that actress Liza Soberano should not be red-tagged because she is not yet an NPA member, as she advised the actress to distance herself from Gabriela Women’s Party-list.

This was after Soberano appeared in an online forum hosted by the group about gender equality.

Soberano and Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray were also warned about Gabriela’s youth members who either ended up with the NPA, either dead or caught in battle.  Parlade said that fellow celebrity Angel Locsin would not tell them the truth about her sister Ella Colmenares, whom he accused of being an NPA rebel.

In the hearings, Parlade insisted on his accusations against the Makabayan bloc and Colmenares, although he clarified that he never called Locsin an NPA member.

The Makabayan bloc and Bayan Muna chairperson Neri Colmenares — Locsin’s cousin mentioned by Parlade himself — skipped the hearing.

’ Red-tagging has been a common complaint from activists who insisted that they are not members of CPP-NPA-NDF, as the government heightens its anti-insurgency drive.

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This issue has drawn wide attention, prompting various human rights circles and the Commission on Human Rights to ask the government to refrain from red-tagging as it may be dangerous to activists. [ac]

TAGS: Bicol Region, CPP-NPA-NDFP, NTF-ELCAC, Philippine news updates, Senate, typhoons

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