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Party-list solon denounces Sotto

Vicente Sotto III
Vicente Sotto III

ACT Teacher party-list Rep. France Castro on Wednesday lambasted Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III over his statement finding value in the warning by Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. against female celebrities working with progressive groups.

Castro hit Sotto for apparently using the Senate inquiry to justify the red-tagging against them and other progressive individuals.

“Una, hindi ito warning kundi threat and red tagging kaya I don’t believe that it has value,” Castro said in hitting Sotto.

“Sa Senate hearing mukhang gusto lang ng committee at ni Senate President i- justify ang mga red-tagging at hindi ang epekto nito sa mga individual organization at sibilyan na na-red-tagged,” Castro stressed in berating Sotto.

Sotto concluded that Parlade’s warning could be correct after former Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teddy Casiño told a Senate inquiry into the alleged red-tagging activities of military officials that the New People’s Army (NPA) normally recruit activists.

In a related development, Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas said the incessant red-tagging and vilification specifically of women’s rights advocates is a form of state violence against women, which is at the center of Wednesday’s commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (IDEVAW).

November 25 was designated by the United Nations as IDEVAW in memory of the Mirabal sisters who fought the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic and in recognition of the need to end all forms of violence against women.

“Red-tagging as carried out by state elements inflicts psychological and mental stress on the targets as it places their life, liberty and security at risk. This is a form of violence against women especially when done to women’s rights advocates,” said Brosas.

“Worse, government-backed red-tagging places women’s rights defenders at risk of sexual violence by inviting and inciting rape and other forms of gender-based violence. Dapat na itong huminto,” she added.

The Gabriela lawmaker said the widespread practice of red-tagging and terror-tagging by the military only affirms the relevance of IDEVAW, and the need to observe the National Consciousness for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Children Wednesday by virtue of Republic Act (RA) No. 10398.

“It is clear in RA 10398 which we principally authored that state instrumentalities must raise awareness on the elimination of all forms of violence against women and children, and that includes state violence,” Brosas said.

“Duterte’s military generals insist that red-tagging is not a policy of the state but their acts indicate otherwise. They repeatedly do it even during the Senate hearing to sow terror and fear among vocal citizens, most notably women’s rights defenders,” she added.