‘Duterte is king of red-taggers’: Makabayan bloc denies links to CPP-NPA-NDF
MANILA, Philippines – Contrary to the remarks made by President Rodrigo Duterte, members of the Makabayan bloc vehemently denied Tuesday their involvement in communist groups, insisting they are legitimate partylist organizations.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, who was one of the main focuses of Duterte’s tirades against the Makabayan lawmakers, said that their groups are legitimate partylist groups elected and currently seated in Congress.
“Bilang panimulang statement ay muli, pinapabulaanan namin sa Makabayan bloc and personally na kami ay front ng Communist Party of the Philippines, ng NPA (New People’s Army) at ng National Democratic Front of the Philippines. Hindi ako myembro ng CPP, pati ng NPA, o ng NDF,” Zarate said in a press briefing.
(As an opening statement, we at Makabayan bloc again deny personally that we are a front of the Communist Party of the Philippines, of NPA (New People’s Army) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. I’m not a member of the CPP, the NPA, or the NDF.)
Zarate said that Duterte’s tirades against them are being used to cover the government’s “incompetence” amid the issues faced by the country such as the coronavirus pandemic.
“Pilit kaming pinipilayan to silence us especially in our active role bilang mga mambabatas sa loob ng Kongreso,” Zarate said.
(They continue to try to silence us, especially in our active role as members of the Congress.)
“‘Yan ay aming matinding kinukundena, kahit na ang kamatayan ng anak ng isa naming kasamahan ay pilit na ginagamit sa propaganda ng administrasyong Duterte para lang mabigyang justification ang kanilang reckless and sweeping red-tagging and terrorist tagging,” the lawmaker added, referring to the death of Jevilyn Cullamat, the daughter of Rep. Eufemia Cullamat, who died following an encounter between the Philippine Army and the NPA.
(We vehemently condemn it. Even in the death of the child of our colleague, the Duterte administration insists on using its propaganda to justify its reckless and sweeping red-tagging and terrorist tagging.)
ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro did not mince her words either, saying that Duterte acted like a drunk man who did not know what he was saying.
“Itong mga statement ni President Duterte, hindi namin idi-dignify ito pero dahil sa mga walang basehan, parang lasing na nagsasalita na kung anu-ano na naman ang pinagsasasabi na walang basehan,” Castro said.
(We’re not dignifying President Duterte’s statements because it’s baseless. He’s like a drunk person who keeps on talking nonsense without basis.)
“Patunay lang ito na si President Duterte ang hari ng red-tagger at siya ‘yung talagang nagpapalakas ng loob dito sa mga militar, mga PNP (Philippine National Police) at iba pang sektor ng national security forces para doon sa ginagawa nila ngayon na patuloy na red-tagging sa Makabayan bloc,” Castro added.
(This just proves that President Duterte is the king of red-taggers. He is empowering the military, PNP, and other sectors of the national security forces when it comes to red-tagging Makabayan Bloc.)
Castro said Duterte simply wants the Makabayan lawmakers silenced.
“Hindi kami patitinag dito. Patuloy kaming magsasalita, patuloy kaming lalapit sa ating mga mamamayan, sa ating mga marginalized sector, mga magsasaka, mga manggagawa, mga Lumad, at iba pang mga inaaping sector para alamin ang kalagayan nila,” Castro said.
(We will not back down from this. We will continue to speak, reach out to our countrymen, the marginalized sectior, the workers, Lumads, and other sectors to find out their conditions.)
Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite, meanwhile, called Duterte’s remarks a diversionary tactic.
“Everytime nasusukol ang gobyerno sa mga napakaraming kasablayan, kapalpakan ng administrasyon, hahanap at hahanap ng ibang diversionary tactic para mawala yung attention ng mga mamamayan pero mulat na ang mga tao dito,” Gaite said.
(Every time the government is surrounded by failures, the administration always finds other diversionary tactics to distract the Filipinos, but the people are already aware of this.)
Gaite said that the government should instead focus on the impacts of the pandemic and the recent typhoons that ravaged the country, which affected thousands of Filipinos.
Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Jane Elago, for her part, expressed concerns that if a congressional representative like her can be red-tagged, the government “will not hesitate” to do the same to other Filipinos who exercise their right to speak up.
“The Duterte administration is insatiable in their scheme to silence dissent and they are relentlessly trying to pretend this youth representation, student-activist as threats or terrorists,” Elago said.
“They are trying so hard to intimidate the youth, to discredit our work and to divert attention away from legitimate issues and concerns presented by young people and students,” Elago added.
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