Think-tank decries government witch hunt

It aims to “stifle economic analysis that is inconsistent with its (Duterte administration’s) preferred narrative of growth and development.”

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — Independent think-tank Ibon Foundation slammed Duterte administration’s claim that the group is a front organization of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

In a press conference, March 14, Jose Enrique Africa, Ibon Foundation’s executive director, said the red-tagging is baseless, malicious and deliberate attack aimed to bury the truth about the true state of the Philippine economy.

Ibon has consistently criticized the economic policies of the Duterte administration such as the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law, which resulted in inflation and price hikes, rice tariffication law, Build Build Build infrastructure projects, among others. Recently, Ibon earned the ire of Malacanang after it exposed the unparalleled job crisis under Duterte.

The red tag, Ibon said, aims to “stifle economic analysis that is inconsistent with its (Duterte administration’s) preferred narrative of growth and development.”

“It seems that ‘truth’ for the Duterte administration is not what is true but only what makes it look good. The Duterte administration cannot handle the truth and goes to great lengths to insist on its narrative,” the group said.

Jose Enrique Africa, Ibon Foundation executive director, decries the malicious, deliberate red tag against his group.

In the recently concluded European roadshow to the European Union (EU), United Nations (UN) agencies, Belgian government and others, the Philippine delegation has accused Ibon and other groups of channeling funding to so-called “communist-terrorists”. Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary for New Media and External Affairs Lorraine Badoy accused us of “[pulling] statistics out of thin air”. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil Military Operations Brigadier General Antonio Parlade also claimed that Ibon submits “fabricated reports” to the EU and UN.

For over 40 years, Ibon has sought to explain socioeconomic and political issues, often using government statistics.

“We categorically state that our analysis is always based on evidence and facts at hand,” Ibon said, adding that the statistics they use come from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

“Our adherence to facts is in contrast with the government’s cavalier attitude to the truth,” the group said.

Enrique said this is the first time in the 40-year history of Ibon that Malacanang publicly labeled them as front organization of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Bishop Solito Toquero, chairperson of Ibon Foundation’s Board of Trustees, decried what he called as McCarthyism. He underscored that even Church people are not spared from red baiting and other forms of attacks.

“Those who speak the truth are persecuted,” Toquero said.”This administration does not want to be criticized.”

Africa said that since last year, their offices have been subjected to surveillance and their staff have been accosted.

The group wrote to the National Security Council and the Armed Forces of the Philippines seeking clarification about the military’s statements reported in media. Africa said the NSC representatives could not full explain their actions and asked Ibon to write the president in his capacity as chairperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.

Ibon has filed a complaint with the Commission on Human Rights on March 4. (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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