Zarate clarifies: NTF-ELCAC is witch hunting, not Lacson’s Senate panel
MANILA, Philippines — Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate on Wednesday said he did not accuse the Senate or its defense committee of engaging in “witch-hunting” during its investigation into the issue of red-tagging.
“I did not refer to the Senate and the Senate committee led by Sen. Ping Lacson as engaged in witch-hunting,” Zarate said in a statement.
“I was clearly referring to the NTF-ELCAC (National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict) and the security sector,” he added.
This, after Lacson, who led the inquiry as chair of the Senate defense committee, hit the Makabayan bloc over Zarate’s remark that the Senate defense committee hearing “has been reduced to a venue for witch-hunting.”
But Zarate said he and his colleagues in the Makabayan bloc acknowledged the efforts of Lacson and the committee for giving them an opportunity “to highlight the plight of the victims, to state our position and vehement objections on the red-tagging and terrorist-tagging issue.”
“We pointed out, though, that the Senate hearings were being used by the NTF-ELCAC as a platform to further vilify us with sweeping and baseless accusations, false statements, and malicious innuendos,” he said.
In a Nov. 30 letter informing Lacson that he and Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago would skip Tuesday’s resumption of the investigation to attend to their duties as House lawmakers, Zarate said that the hearing is supposedly being used by NTF-ELCAC to “vilify” them.
“As it is, instead of looking at the deadly effects of red-tagging and terrorist-tagging especially on its victims, the Senate hearings are being used by the NTF- ELCAC as a platform to further vilify us with sweeping and baseless accusations, false statements and malicious innuendos,” the letter read.
“The Senate hearing has been reduced to a venue for witch-hunting. We hope that this travesty will no longer be allowed and will be stopped,” he added.
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