Urban poor group to file case vs ‘red-tagging’ task force
Samahan ng Mamamayan-Zone One Tondo Organization (SM-ZOTO), a federation of urban poor community groups, on Monday said it would file charges against the government’s anti-insurgency task force over its claims linking it to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
In a press conference, Orly Gallano, president of SM-ZOTO, quelled links to the New People’s Army (NPA) surrenderers presented by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac).
“We are registered and accredited from different cities and municipalities from where we team up and participate in initiatives,” Gallano said in Filipino. “We are not a legal front of the CPP.”
Established in 1986, ZOTO is a federation of advocates and volunteers in the Metro and Luzon provinces, which organizes urban poor communities in relocation sites and demolition areas.
“A community of economically and politically empowered citizens, who are accorded their due dignity, foster gender equality and democracy, child-friendly, and live in a healthy, bountiful environment,” SM-ZOTO’s official website said. In a live broadcast by the Sonshine Media Network International last Sept. 28, the government’s anti-insurgency agency presented some 100 rebel returnees and members of ZOTO who “surrendered” to the folds of the law.
Present in the ceremony was a certain Lydia Calibos who introduced herself as the national president of SM-ZOTO.
Gallano confirmed that Calibos was a former leader of the urban poor organization but was dismissed in 2007.
Sanlakas secretary general lawyer Aaron Pedrosa said the organization would pursue available remedies under the Rules of Court, such as writ of amparo and writ of data, to protect the rights of their members. To hold the NTF-Elcac and an unnamed media outfit for propagating Red-tagging claims, SM-ZOTO may seek criminal and administrative charges. INQ