Senate panel urges Makabayan bloc to openly denounce communists
MANILA, Philippines — A Senate panel that investigated the alleged Red-tagging by the military prodded the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives to openly and strongly denounce the communist rebels.
In a 66-page report, the Senate committee on national defense said progressive groups should address the issue of their alleged involvement with the Communist Party of the Philippines- New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), instead of just issuing general denials.
In particular, the committee “enjoins the members of the Makabayan bloc from the House of Representatives to openly and strongly denounce the CPP-NPA-NDF for its actual acts of aggression against the duly constituted government and against the people to disassociate themselves from the armed struggle.”
The Makabayan bloc in the House is composed of Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas; Bayan Muna Reps. Carlos Zarate, Ferdinand Gaite, and Eufemia Cullamat; ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro, and Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago.
“As elected representatives of the marginalized sectors, it is incumbent upon them to advocate the interest of their respective sectors in the parliament within the bounds of the law. Their leadership should exemplify among their members and constituents the pursuit of change by ways of peace including legal protests and related mass actions,” the panel said.
It also noted that while the progressive groups were quick to condemn the military and police’s alleged human rights violations, they refused to do the same when the panel asked them “to denounce and disown” the CPP-NPA-NDF.
“This Committee recognizes that they have no legal responsibility, as freedom of expression includes the right not to speak,” read the report.
“However, it is the position of the Committee that, as government officials who have taken their oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, they have at the very least the moral obligation to condemn the atrocities perpetrated by the CPP-NPA-NDF.”
“They should publicly reproach the CPP-NPA-NDF with the same tenacity they devote in calling out the government for, its shortcomings in various issues facing our nation and demanding reforms on almost every aspect of governance,” it further said.
The report, which has yet to be discussed in the plenary, was signed by 13 senators, including committee chair Senator Panfilo Lacson and Senator Risa Hontiveros, who signed with dissent.
“I dissent to the argument that red-tagging does not violate human rights just because there are existing laws that provide legal redress,” Hontiveros wrote on the report.
The same panel report said that there is no longer a need to criminalize Red-tagging as there are already legal remedies available to an aggrieved party.
Hontiveros also maintained that Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. “should be held fully accountable for their continuous red-tagging of schools, indigenous people, media groups and activists, among others.”
She said she concurs with the UN’s observations that Red-tagging has a “chilling effect on the legitimate work of human rights defenders” and has “muddled the space for debate, disagreement/ for challenging state institutions and policies.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.