INDEPENDENT Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman on Wednesday said the relentless and baseless red-tagging by military against progressive lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc, members of the progressive groups and celebrities justifies the Supreme Court (SC) issuance of temporary restraining order (TRO) against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 or Republic Act (RA) No. 11479.
Lagman also lamented the admission of National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) spokesperson Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade, Jr. placing the Makabayan bloc lawmakers and Bayan Muna chairman Neri Colmenares under surveillance.
“The relentless yet unfounded red-tagging of cause-oriented legislators and progressive celebrities is another major reason for the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) stopping the implementation of the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 (ATA),” Lagman stressed.
“The enactment and effectivity of the ATA have emboldened military officials like Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, spokesman of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, to label activist lawmakers of the Makabayan Bloc as terrorists for allegedly being card-bearing members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP),” Lagman stressed.
“Granting that the six Makabayan Representatives are affiliated with CPP, Parlade forgets that membership in the CPP is legal after the Anti-Subversion Law was repealed in 1992 or 28 years ago. Parlade has even justified the surveillance of targeted legislators under the new anti-terrorism law,” he said.
ESPERON DARES MAKABAYAN BLOC TO SHOW ITS TRUE COLOR
National Council Director General Hermogenes Esperon on Wednesday challenged members of the progressive groups, particularly the Makabayan bloc, to expose their true color and what they are fighting for.
In a strongly worded statement, Esperon said he is ready to show evidence that will prove the intentions of the CPP-NPA and the various front organizations supporting it.
Esperon, NTF-ELCAC, is defending the group’s spokesperson Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy and Parlade against those accusing them of engaging to red-tagging.
“I wish to make it clear that I am providing numerous pieces of evidence and information that will expose the true nature of the CPP-NPA, and its various front organizations, primarily among them the Makabayab bloc. We are taking this opportunity to inform the public of the deceit and treachery that they have continuously employed on order to gain sympathy for their cause,” Esperon said.
According to Esperon, the administration is not red-tagging front organizations because term itself came from the communist organization.
“We are accused of red-tagging front organizations by their very own mouthpieces. To them I pose these questions: Why have they not questioned Jose Maria Sison when he himself identified these organizations as part of the bigger organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines? Sison was specific when he named Bayan, Gabriela, Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), League of Filipino Students, and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas as well as the Kilusang Mayo Uno as part of his national democratic revolution,” Esperon further said.
In this connection, the national security adviser of President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed disappointment over the proposal of Makabayan bloc to remove the budget of the NTF-ELCAC which for 2021 is pegged at P19 billion.
He stressed that while the NTF-ELCAC is aimed at dismantling the NPA and underground organizations, there is a parallel effort to develop areas formerly held by the said armed group.
Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Tuesday expressed deep concern on the red-tagging and military surveillance against progressive lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc.
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.
Parlade also allegedly threatened entertainment celebrity Liza Soberano and 2018 Miss Universe Catriona Gray for supposedly supporting progressive women’s group Gabriela and other rights groups just like movie actress Angel Locsin.
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 CPP based on the reliable information he got from former members of the group who are now in the government. 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.