Leni, campaigners cry red-tagging, harassment | Inquirer News

Leni, campaigners cry red-tagging, harassment

/ 05:35 AM April 08, 2022

Leni, campaigners cry Red-tagging, harassment

Vice President Leni Robredo talks to a crowd of an estimated 50,000 supporters in Tarlac City. Tarlac province was the only place in Central Luzon where she won in the 2016 elections against former Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (Photo from her Facebook page)

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo and supporters of her presidential campaign said that they were seeing more intense harassment and intimidation, particularly the use of the red scare tactic aimed at driving voters away from her.

In a statement on Thursday, Robredo said she was standing by her “courageous volunteers” who were accused of being part of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).


She assured them that her campaign team, including volunteer lawyers, “are ready to defend (you) from any harassment arising from red-tagging.”


“Let me be clear: I will never ally myself with anyone that uses violence to promote an agenda,” Robredo said in a statement on Thursday, a day after a Pulse Asia survey showed she had narrowed the gap between herself and front-runner former Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

“The reason why I and our campaign volunteers are being relentlessly red-tagged is clear: to try and break the increasing momentum of our People’s Campaign,” she said.

Robredo defeated Marcos for the vice presidency in the May 2016 elections.

When it started

“Let us not forget, these attacks started when our people’s rallies began to draw huge crowds,” the Vice President said. “There were clearly those who were surprised, and terrified, by the idea of ordinary Filipinos coming together in hope.”

She was likely alluding to, among others, Cavite Rep. Boying Remulla who said that her massive rally in General Trias City with her running mate Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan used “hakot” (paid) crowds, and that they were infiltrated by communist groups.

The Robredo People’s Council in Cavite denounced Remulla’s “malicious and baseless” claims.


Sen. Panfilo Lacson, another presidential aspirant, also insinuated Robredo’s links to the insurgents.

“This is worrisome,” he tweeted on March 6. “A coalition government with the CPP-NPA-NDF will set back the gains of the government’s efforts to end the country’s decades-old insurgency problem.”

Lacson denied he was red-tagging Robredo’s supporters, saying that he was just warning against “a possible coalition government with a movement whose sole objective is to seize power.”

In a tweet on March 9, Lacson said it would be “really worrisome” and “bad, if their campaign is infiltrated.”

“Worse if they are a willing partner,” he added.

Lacson made no similar direct warnings when President Duterte offered Cabinet posts to the CPP in 2016. But he said the President’s nominees would need approval by the Commission on Appointments, which rejected two prominent leftist leaders.

‘It’s a lie’

Robredo has repeatedly decried the “nonstop red-tagging of me and my volunteers” as well as the coalition government allegation.

“To be clear about it: It’s a lie,” Robredo said on March 13. “I will not form an alliance with such people or those who believe in them. My priority is to work in a peaceful way for the dignity of every person, for the empowered and responsible exercise of freedoms, and fairness.”

Lately, scores of troll accounts have cropped up on social media, again peddling the debunked allegations about Robredo and her volunteers.

One Twitter account opened just this month was again spreading the rumor that her “first” husband, before she married the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, was an NPA member.

In Laoag City, about 800 members of the Ilocos Norte for Leni-Kiko Volunteers (INLOVE) were badmouthed as they marched into the capital of Ilocos Norte province on March 27.

People along the road called them “Bobo (stupid)!,” “Lugaw! (rice porridge),” “Lutang! (confused),” “Bayaran! (hired)” and “Haan nga pudno nga Ilocano! (not real Ilocanos).”

The group said it was one of the “many instances of harassment that we experience almost every day simply for choosing Leni Robredo.”

Robredo’s posters have been destroyed or defaced “since day one,” it said.

‘Bomb threat’ reported

In Kalibo, the Youth for Leni-Kiko in Aklan filed a police report on Tuesday after a Facebook user said she would place a bomb in the middle of a street-dancing and rally for Robredo and Pangilinan in the capital town.

The Facebook page owner, Mutya Ako Gonzales Gonzalo, has apologized for her April 3 post, saying it was just a joke.

“This should not be taken lightly because we have more planned activities and others could do the same to intimidate, harass or harm us,” said Paterno Tambong, founder and adviser of the group.

Also on Thursday, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) in Panay denounced the arrest of its secretary general, Elmer Forro, and warned that leaders of groups supporting Robredo could be targeted for arrest a month before the elections.

Forro was arrested in Cabatuan town in Iloilo province on March 29 on charges of murder and attempted murder for allegedly taking part in an NPA ambush that killed an Army radio operator on April 7, 2020.

Several witnesses, including a lawyer, have executed sworn statements that they were with Forro separately in Iloilo City and Pavia town on the day of the encounter.

Verbal abuse

In Davao City, the harassment of the volunteers of the Youth for Leni, came early in February when an unidentified man entered their office in Bajada district while they were resting following a successful caravan.

The man accused them of being “bayaran,” according to Rose Quimod, one of the group’s leaders. They tried to calm him down but he continued hurling verbal abuse at them and warning that they could expect more of it. The group reported the incident to the police.

In Zamboanga City, posters of Robredo and Pangilinan were being torn down, despite its mayor being a strong supporter of the Vice President.

Much of the harassment against the Robredo campaign occurs online through hate-filled messages.

A fierce Robredo critic and one of the country’s vocal red-taggers, Lorraine Badoy, has said that the Vice President conspired with the communists to run for president.

On Thursday, Badoy, a spokesperson for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, faced the fifth criminal complaint against her for making such allegations. The case this time was filed by the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW).

Seven members of the group accused her of violating the antigraft law and the code of conduct for public officials and employees. They asked the Office of the Ombudsman to suspend her.

They said Badoy last year published allegations that the AHW and the Alliance of Concerned Teachers were “created” by the CPP and that these groups had “infiltrated” the government.

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TAGS: #VotePH2022, Leni Robredo, NTF-ELCAC, red-tagging

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