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Red-tagging of solons alarms Speaker

SPEAKER Lord Allan Velasco on Tuesday expressed deep concern on the red-tagging and military surveillance against progressive lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc as admitted by National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) spokesperson Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade, Jr.

“I am deeply concerned over the continuous red-tagging of some members of the House of Representatives by Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. that endangers the lives of these duly-elected officials,” Velasco stressed.

“As Speaker of the House, I am duty-bound to protect them from potential harm due to these careless accusations so that they may carry their legal and constitutional mandate as members of Congress,” Velasco explained.

“General Parlade should be more circumspect and cautious in issuing statements against House members whose lives he may place at great risk and danger sans strong evidence. We may not agree with them on certain issues, but be mindful that these lawmakers are duly elected representatives of the people, and implicating them on issues that have yet to be substantiated is uncalled for,” the Speaker pointed out.

“I am equally disturbed that General Parlade has targeted celebrities for speaking their minds and promoting their advocacies. I hope he will refrain from issuing unrestrained statements that also carry serious repercussions. If he has evidence, gather them and go to court, and not to the media,” Velasco said.

The members of the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives are Bayan Muna Reps. Carlos Isagani Zarate, Eufemia Cullamat and Ferdinand Gaite, ACT-Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro, Gabriela Women’s party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas, and Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Elago.

According to Parlade, Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Southern Luzon Command, the Makabayan bloc and Bayan Muna chairman Neri Colmenares were placed under surveillance for being “card-bearing” members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) based on the reliable information he got from former members of the group who are now in the government.

“It’s not only Neri Colmenares [who is under surveillance] but it is also other members of the Kamatayan bloc, the Makabayan bloc,” Parlade told an ANC cable channel interview Monday. “They are card-bearing members of the Communist Party of the Philippines, and I like to repeat that again and again and again.”

The Makabayan bloc already condemned the continued red-tagging and military surveillance against them along with Colmenares.

“We the Makabayan bloc in Congress condemns the continued red tagging and surveillance not just of our chairman former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmemares but our whole bloc as well,” the group of six party-list lawmakers said in a statement.

“Again we reiterate our call to stop the red tagging of the Makabayan bloc, the harassment and surveillance of its officers and members because we are just defending human rights,” they said.