Investigate PNP stunt in Bulacan, CHR urged
MANILA, Philippines — Bayan Muna chair Neri Colmenares on Friday asked the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to look into what he claimed to have been a staged “mass surrender” of supposed members of leftist groups in Bulacan last April.
In a letter to Chito Gascon, CHR chair, Colmenares said the touted mass surrender event was just another attempt to Red-tag his organization, Bayan Muna, and other leftist groups led by members of the House of Representatives in the Makabayan Bloc.
“Clearly, this is yet another instance of the continuous efforts of the [National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, or NTF-Elcac] to vilify, demonize, and Red-tag Bayan Muna, the members of the House Makabayan Bloc and progressive organizations in their vain attempt to stifle dissent against the Duterte administration,” Colmenares said in his letter.
‘Deplorable’ use of gov’t fundsColmenares claimed that those who “surrendered” were given “government assistance” in exchange for denouncing the leftist organizations.
“The [surrenderers], we were also informed, are often coerced to sign documents stating that they condemn our organizations, in exchange for a token amount of aid,” said Colmenares.
Colmenares slammed the use of government funds to discredit organizations, calling it deplorable.
“As duly elected members of Congress, it is our sworn duty to forward our advocacies as we have promised to our constituencies. Our being in the opposition to President Duterte is based on our principles, as well as our check and balance duty as legislators under the Constitution, and Red-tagging organizations like us as ‘terrorists’ is an attack on dissent,” he added.
Colmenares wrote the CHR after the Philippine National Police and NTF-Elcac presented last month alleged members of Bayan Muna and Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) and claimed they surrendered to the government.
The event was attended by ranking regional police officials, such as Central Luzon regional police chief Valeriano de Leon, Bulacan police officials Lawrence Cajipe and Fitz Macariola, and San Jose Del Monte Mayor Arthur Robes.
The supposed surrender happened as the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the legality of the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
But on the eighth day of the oral arguments on Wednesday, Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo and Senior Associate Justice Estela Perlas Bernabe—the most senior magistrates—expressed concern at the apparent disregard for due process in the law.
Gesmundo, a former assistant solicitor general, pointed out that designating parties as terrorists would have implications on the reputation of individuals and organizations, along with the properties covered by any resulting freeze order.
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