House Makabayan bloc slams disqualification plan
MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers from the House of Representatives’ Makabayan bloc cried foul over plans to disqualify them through the Commission on Elections (Comelec), claiming that it may be a scheme to cripple the opposition in the next polls.
Former Bayan Muna congressman and now party chair Neri Colmenares said that the move from government officials, especially from the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Insurgency (NTF-ELCAC), is only meant to stifle dissent and dissuade critics from speaking out.
“Red tagging is intended to stifle dissent and threaten the lives of the victims […] actually to instill fear on Makabayan and other critics to stifle dissent and as Sec. (Delfin) Lorenzana has threatened, to file for the disqualification or proscription/designation under anti-terror law of the Makabayan bloc,” Colmenares said on Sunday.
Colmenares was referring to recent statements from Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who acknowledged in an earlier radio interview with DZBB that they are considering seeking the disqualification of party-lists inside the Makabayan bloc — Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Alliance of Concerned Teachers, Kabataan, and Anakpawis — from running again.
Lorenzana said that they have observed that the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) — that are being linked to party-lists in the Makabayan bloc — have grown and become stronger with the Makabayan party-lists in office.
He also noted that the activist groups have done nothing but criticize the government.
“Isa ‘yan sa mga method or paraan na pwede silang tanggalin dyan sa Kongreso, dahil alam ninyo, ang history nila, wala naman silang ginawa kung hindi batikusin ang gobyerno at saka habang nandyan sila lumalakas lalo ‘yong CPP-NPA eh,” Lorenzana said.
“Kami, kasi dahil sa legal front nga raw sila, meron silang legal cover, sa kanila pwede na nilang gawin ‘yong gusto nilang gawin. Pero ang sabi ko, I dared them before, sabi ko sa kanila, tinanong kasi ako ni Congressman Zarate two years ago, what do I think of legal front. I told him, kung ang legal front ay fronting for an illegal organization like the NPA, it is illegal,” he added.
But Kabataan party-list stressed that this revelation from Lorenzana only reveals the true purpose of red-tagging and the threats hurled at the Makabayan bloc: to silence dissent and criticism and to disenfranchise a lot of their constituents relying on them to call out wrongs with the administration.
“Lumabas na din ang totoo mula sa kanilang bibig mismo. Ito ang matagal nang plano ng NTF-ELCAC, DND at buong security sector kaya patuloy ang pagpapakalat ng fake news at red-tagging sa buong Makabayan Bloc. May hidden agenda: busalan ang bibig ng mga kabataan at mamamayan, at tanggalan ng tunay na representasyon sa Kongreso,” Kabataan said in a separate statement.
Kabataan further noted that the security sector has relentlessly tried to campaign against them before, but fell short of their goals.
“Noong Eleksyon 2019, tahasang nangangampanya ang AFP at PNP laban sa Kabataan Party-list at iba pang mga progresibong party-list ngunit nabigo sila sa kanilang masamang balakin dahil sa malakas na suporta ng mga mamamayan sa mga party-list na ito,” the group added.
“Nasa track record ng Kabataan Party-list ang pagiging boses ng kabataan at mamamayan sa loob at labas ng Kongreso lalo sa pagtindig kontra sa mga anti-mamamayang polisiya ng rehimeng Duterte,” it noted.
ACT Rep. France Castro meanwhile stressed that they are duly-elected lawmakers representing particular sectors in the country.
“We are duly elected party-lists voted by the people for our firm stance for higher salaries, genuine land reform, for the respect and protection of the rights and welfare of teachers, workers, students, and all Filipinos,” Castro added.
Makabayan has been on the receiving end of allegations that they are actual CPP-NPA members, as the Senate sought an inquiry into the red-tagging controversy.
The issue stemmed from Southern Luzon Command chief Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr.’s unsolicited advice to actress Liza Soberano, that she should not associate herself with Gabriela. This was after Soberano appeared in an online event hosted by Gabriela on the lack of safe spaces for women.
Parlade, a member of the NTF-ELCAC said Soberano should be spared from red-tagging as she is not yet an NPA member — a piece of advice that critics of the government perceived as a veiled threat. The military official retaliated by saying that Soberano’s family was even thankful for the advice.
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