Makabayan bloc on Senate panel report: Legal remedies on red-tagging ‘defective, lacking’
MANILA, Philippines — The Makabayan bloc at the House of Representatives on Thursday expressed its belief that current legal remedies against red-tagging are “insufficient, defective and lacking” after the Senate committee on defense released its report that read there is no need to criminalize red-baiting.
“We disagree with the finding that there are legal remedies in place to protect the rights of victims of red-tagging,” the progressive bloc said in a statement.
“Current legal remedies are insufficient, defective and lacking,” the bloc added.
Aside from this, the Makabayan bloc also expressed its dismay that the Senate panel report “refused to acknowledge” the link between red-tagging by government agents and the perpetuation of human rights violations, including extra-judicial killings, citing “absence of substantial evidence.”
“This is truly the crux of the matter and the major failing of the report,” the group said. “The committee has been too quick to devalue the testimony of victims of red-tagging who have suffered actual violations of their rights, while invoking exemption from the rules of evidence and according presumption of regularity in its appreciation of the largely hearsay testimony provided by the NTF-Elcac’s (National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict) witnesses against the Makabayan bloc and other progressive organizations.
“Red-tagging kills, and those responsible must be held accountable,” the group further insisted.
In its 66-page report, the Senate national defense panel said that the legal remedies against red-tagging are “sufficient,” and that there is no need to criminalize the act since personalities may avail of the legal remedies available under existing laws.
Aside from this, the Senate panel report also read that the Makabayan bloc to “openly and strongly denounce” the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (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, meanwhile, reiterated that its members “do not espouse nor are engaged in the armed struggle.”
“We certainly condemn and do not tolerate any atrocity committed by any side of the armed conflict, especially those in violation of the Comprehensive Agreement for the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law,” the bloc said.
And while the group said it did not agree with some parts of the Senate panel report, its members welcomed some specific recommendations such as Ntf-Elcac spokesman and Southern Luzon Command chief Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade’s controversial pronouncement as “damaging” not only to the integrity of the Duterte administration’s anti-insurgency task force, but also to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Aside from this, the Makabayan bloc also welcomed another recommendation of the panel report, advising the government’s security forces to “refrain from publicly vilifying, labeling and imputing guilt by association to the communist group various institutions and progressive organizations based on false or unverified information.”
“This should be immediately implemented. All red-tagging activities by the government should immediately cease, posts and publications must be taken down, and those responsible held accountable and charged accordingly,” the Makabayan bloc said.
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