Lawyers’ group slams ‘baseless’ Duterte red-tagging of Zarate
MANILA, Philippines — An organization of lawyers on Friday slammed President Rodrigo Duterte’s “baseless” red-tagging of Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, saying that the Chief Executive’s remarks put the lawmaker in danger.
In a statement, the Public Interest Law Center (PILC) condemned what they called the “vicious and malicious attacks” of Duterte to Zarate.
“This brazen vilification and imprudent statement coming from the highest official of the land has put Rep. Zarate at risk of reprisals and attacks,” PILC said.
“It also endangers the lives and security of the representatives, leaders, and members of Bayan Muna and other progressive organizations,” it added.
Duterte, in his public address, identified Zarate and claimed that he and other progressive lawmakers supported the actions of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). But Zarate and other members of the left-leaning Makabyan bloc have constantly denied being members, much less being officials, of the CPP.
The group said Zarate’s “uncompromising stand” for human rights earned him the ire of Duterte whose government has been accused of human rights violations particularly through its brutal war on drugs.
“Not having anything to throw at him, President Duterte has resorted to red tagging through unsupported claims of links with the armed rebellion and through flawed legal logic,” it said.
The group likewise noted that even before Duterte’s red-tagging of the progressive lawmakers, the killing of activists and human rights defenders have been “going on” as well as the red-tagging spree of the police and military under the leadership of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
The PILC said Duterte’s “McCarthy tactics” or the practice of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence, should stop.
“It is clear that such tactics are meant to maintain the climate of fear and repression and suppress the exercise of civil liberties,” it added.
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