Senate panel seeks halt to Red-tagging with false, unverified info as basis
MANILA, Philippines—The Senate committee on defense has advised the government’s security forces against publicly linking institutions or activist groups to the communist insurgency on the basis of unproven intelligence reports or information.
The committee made this and other recommendations in a report on Feb. 22 on its investigation of alleged Red-tagging of individuals and groups by the military.
“The security sector should exercise caution in making public pronouncements as these carry with it a semblance of authority from the State,” the 66-page report read.
“The authorities should refrain from publicly vilifying, labelling and imputing guilt by association to the communist groups, various institutions and progressive organizations based on false or unverified information,” it added.
The committee report pointed to the military’s “recent blunder” in posting on social media a list of University of the Philippines alumnus who had supposedly joined New People’s Army (NPA), armed wing of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). The panel said the mistake was “unacceptable.”
Last Jan. 22, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Information Exchange released a list of 27 people who were supposedly “UP students who became NPA (died or captured).”
The AFP Information Exchange has since issued an apology for “inconsistencies” on the list and has taken down the post.
Aside from the apology, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana sacked Maj. Gen. Alex Luna from his post as deputy chief of staff for intelligence following the publication of the erroneous list.
“The recklessness in making such Inaccurate and inconsistent public pronouncements causes not only damage to the reputation of those identified, but also weakens the credibility of the government in safeguarding the security of the State,” the committee report said.
“To earn the trust and confidence of the people, they must prove the legitimacy of their means used in gathering information and the credibility of their evidence,” it added.
The committee, chaired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson, launched the investigation late in 2020. It was triggered by a Facebook post from Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, Southern Luzon Command chief, implying that actress Liza Soberano had been recruited by communist rebels when she communicated with Gabriela Women’s party-list group, which the military had tagged as a communist front.
The committee report was signed by 13 senators. It has yet to be brought to the floor for plenary debate.
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