Bongbong Marcos security adviser: Red-tagging should stop | Inquirer News

Bongbong Marcos security adviser: Red-tagging should stop

There will be no more Red-tagging in the administration of President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. if the appointed National Security Adviser (NSA) Clarita Carlos can help it.

Clarita Carlos

There will be no more Red-tagging in the administration of President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. if the appointed National Security Adviser (NSA) Clarita Carlos can help it.

“I have repeatedly declared that Red-tagging should be stopped because it makes no sense labeling people,” Carlos said on Friday at the Laging Handa briefing. “For me, as a social scientist, when you use labels, that means you are a lazy person because you don’t know how else to [identify] a person.”


The retired professor of the University of the Philippines (UP) said the government should invest its resources on “issues of injustice, lack of opportunity and the huge inequality between the poor and the rich.”


“National security is not just about military engagements and things outside our oceans, beyond our shores. It is really about human security, energy security, food security and the like,” she said.

Carlos also said in an interview with ANC’s “Headstart,” that labeling people as communists was “not productive” and had not done much to end the 50-year-old insurgency.


She said the government’s energy should be used for “addressing inequality and lack of opportunities” for the poor and the marginalized.

“You should work on the problems on the ground. Provide them livelihood, give their children the opportunity to go to school and flourish as individuals. Isn’t that human security?” she said.

As the next NSA replacing Hermogenes Esperon Jr., Carlos will serve as vice chair of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac), a body notorious for tagging activists, students, journalists, lawmakers, even bookstores, as communists. The President chairs the task force.

Carlos will also take the post of director general of the National Security Council (NSC), which is in charge of coordinating and integrating plans and policies involving national security. At the Laging Handa briefing, she urged critics not to immediately judge her capability as NSA, a position usually held by former military officials or politicians with a background in national defense.


If confirmed as NSA, she will be the first woman to hold the post, and the third civilian after Norberto Gonzales and former UP president Emanuel Soriano, who served during the Arroyo and the first Aquino administrations, respectively.

Asked how she would proceed if NTF-Elcac officials continued to engage in Red-tagging, Carlos said in jest: “Well, if they have a contract, I will allow their contract to lapse.”

But Carlos said she was “blind,” having yet to be briefed by Esperon and, “except for publicly available documents of the NSA and the NSC,” ignorant of “the inside dynamic of that office.”

She said she wanted a briefing “as soon as possible.”

Empirical evidence

Citing her social science background, Carlos said the persistent inequality between the rich and poor would always be a source of political violence.“If you kill the future of a person, that person will definitely take up arms. Is that too difficult to understand?” she said, adding:

“Empirical evidence … shows that the military route never works, so we should stop it. We look stupid doing the same things that do not work. We should do what works.”

Should Carlos’ views be adopted by Marcos Jr.—whose father, the late former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., imposed martial law in 1972 to stem a purported budding communist rebellion—it would be a major shift from President Duterte’s strategy of fully eliminating “communist terrorists” in the country.

The military and the police vowed to end the insurgency before the end of Mr. Duterte’s term at the end of June. Still, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), its armed wing the New People’s Army (NPA), and its political wing the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) have yet to be defeated in the government’s war against insurgency.

No more peace talks

But for Carlos, peace negotiations with the CPP-NPA-NDFP are over.

“We’re done with peace talks,” she told ANC. “We have agreement on certain things. Let’s proceed with that. We already know what to do.”

Carlos said, however, that the insurgents should not be excluded but invited “to be part [of the] change.”

She suggested that the government empower local peace councils—“the ones nearest to these insurgents who really want to have jobs, to have education, to dream to be journalists, architects, social scientists like me.”

As NSA, Carlos will also concurrently sit as vice chair of the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC), which is authorized to classify groups or persons as terrorists under Republic Act No. 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

In 2021, the ATC designated the CPP-NPA-NDFP as terrorist organizations. But the case to proscribe them as terrorist groups remains pending at the Manila Regional Trial Court.

After the Marcos dictatorship was toppled in 1986, President Corazon Aquino’s administration began peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDFP.

The talks were pursued by the next administrations, but collapsed less than a year after Mr. Duterte assumed the presidency.

EO 70

Rights activists aired generally positive reactions to Carlos’ stance against the Red-tagging by the NTF-Elcac, which was formed under the 2018 Executive Order No. 70 adopting a “whole-of-nation” approach in addressing the insurgency.

If Carlos succeeds in stopping Red-tagging, “then we might see some improvement in how this campaign is enforced by the government,” Carlos Conde, senior researcher at the Asia division of the New York-based Human Rights Watch, told the Inquirer.

Conde said the NTF-Elcac’s Red-tagging was “not in line” with its mandate “because of its often-brutal impact on the rights of individuals and on the democratic space.”

He said Carlos should “use her leadership of the NTF-Elcac to ensure that the counterinsurgency campaign upholds and respects human rights and civil liberties.”

‘Translate to policy

Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, said Carlos should “act to rescind” EO 70 and the “whole-of-nation” approach to the insurgency.

Palabay said such a strategy was employed as early as the Arroyo and second Aquino administrations, and “failed miserably.”

“It is a sugarcoated militarist approach patterned after the US Counterinsurgency Guide that has resulted in extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, indiscriminate bombings and threats against citizens, especially those exercising their right to political dissent,” she said in a statement. Bagong Alyansang Makabayan welcomed Carlos’ stance. “But we need to see it translated into policy” that is “adopted by the military establishment from its officials down to the lower ranks,” said its secretary general Renato Reyes.


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As nat’l security adviser, Carlos wants red-tagging to be a thing of the past

TAGS: Carlos, red-tagging

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