Esperon: ‘The master red-tagger is no other than Jose Maria Sison’
MANILA, Philippines — National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon has introduced to the Supreme Court a person he called the “master red-tagger.”
Esperon for the first time spoke before the Supreme Court on the 8th day of oral arguments on petitions against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. He denied that the government has been red-tagging organizations.
As proof, Esperon played a 2-minute video of Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison where the communist leader can be heard mentioning the names of 18 organizations whom he called “allied organizations.”
He also played a 1987 video of Sison supposedly naming the legal organizations in the supposed National Democratic Revolution.
“The master red-tagger is no other than Jose Maria Sison. We are merely informing the public, this is of course what we called truth tagging for purposes of public information so that we will not be misled by this movement or triad of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New Peoples Army, and the National Democratic Front,” Esperon said.
He said the communist-led armed rebellion is behind 60-percent of all violent acts committed in the country that caused the Philippines to rank 10th in the Global Index of Terrorism in 2018 and 2019.
At the same time, Esperon said the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) will publish on Thursday the designation of individuals with communist links.
However, when he was asked about the names under the ATC resolution, Esperon said: “Your Honor, I don’t want to preempt the Anti-Terrorism Council because I have yet to see the publication today for tomorrow of persons connected with the CPP-NPA. There is a resolution of the Anti-Terrorism Council but until we have published these in local papers, we will not name them publicly.”
Answering questions from Associate Justice Rosmari Carandang, Esperon said the Human Security Act (HSA) is no longer responsive to the evolving problem of insurgency.
“We have to come up with a new law since terrorism is now becoming more dynamic, we have to address foreign terrorists and their financing. We believe that the anti-terrorism law is more appropriate for this time,” he said.
Esperon said even with the 2007 HSA, the Philippines has one of the weakest anti-terrorism laws in the region if not the world.
In Wednesday’s proceeding, the justices concluded their interpellation of the Office of the Solicitor General represented by Assistant Solicitor Generals Marissa Dela Cruz-Galandines and Raymund Rigodon.
The next round – the 9th round – of oral arguments where the justices are expected to continue their questioning on Esperon will proceed on Monday, May 17.
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