Makabayan bloc up in arms over Alvarez’s ‘malicious’ Red-tagging
Members of the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives assailed the latest statement of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez about militant lawmakers benefiting from the New People’s Army (NPA)’s “revolutionary taxes” the rebels allegedly extort from local officials.
“We in the Makabayan bloc, detest the malicious and dangerous red tagging by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez,” the lawmakers said in a statement on Thursday.
The militant bloc include ACT Teachers partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio, Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, Gabriela Women’s Partylist Rep. Emmi de Jesus, Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Ariel Casilao, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Jane Elago, ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro and Gabriela Women’s partylist Rep. Arlene Brosas.
“The malicious insinuation that the Makabayan bloc is receiving or in any way benefiting from NPA revolutionary taxation is too absurd for further comment, were it not for the real danger that he could be laying a preposterous predicate for cracking down on Makabayan on trumped up charges,” they said.
The lawmakers said the House leadership just wanted to divert attention from the “now awakened issue of thriving pork barrel” in Congress.
Earlier Thursday, Alvarez said he suspects that Makabayan bloc “directly or indirectly benefit” from the armed communist rebels’ revolutionary taxes as he defended the budget cuts from some lawmakers critical of the Duterte administration.
Citing information from the military, Alvarez said that in southern Mindanao alone, the NPA – the armed component of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) – collects close to P500 million yearly in revolutionary taxes.
Alvarez’s suspicion was based on Makabayan bloc’s lack of clear and unequivocal condemnation of revolutionary taxation.
“This crude attempt to implicate the Makabayan bloc in the collection of revolutionary taxes is, if anything, only a means to further strengthen the administration’s objective to incriminate all of its ‘dissenters’ as either terrorists or terrorist financiers,” the Makabayan lawmakers said.
They said Alvarez should just stick to the issue of pork barrel and stop justifying the continued proliferation of patronage politics.
“Year in and out, the Makabayan bloc has campaigned strongly against the pork barrel system and has actively exposed ‘pork’ in the national budget. Public funds are collected for the benefit of the public, and therefore, should be directly allocated to infrastructure, health, housing, education and other social services,” they added./ac
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