As the nation reels from the destruction of the typhoon and continued socio-economic impacts of the pandemic, Karapatan said that the hearing is not only ill-timed but “a foreboding of the things to come when the Anti-Terrorism Act is fully implemented.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Representatives of the Makabayan bloc and human rights defenders lamented that the Senate continued with a hearing on red-tagging while the country is reeling from the impacts of the pandemic and typhoon Rolly (international name: Goni).
In a statement, Makabayan bloc, composed of Bayan Muna, ACT Teachers, Gabriela Women’s Party and Kabataan Partylist, called on fellow legislators to “focus on meeting the urgent needs of our countrymen who suffer during the pandemic and calamity and not on political intimidation and spreading lies.”
Members of the Makabayan bloc opted not to participate in yesterday’s Senate hearing as they are all busy with relief missions in areas hit hardest by the typhoon.
They were represented by their counsel, Maneeka Sarza who read their letter to the Committee on National Defense and Security, Peace, Unification and Reconciliation led by Senator Panfilo Lacson Sr.
In their letter, the Makabayan legislators said they are “hoping that it will not allow the committee and the Senate to be used as a launching pad for red tagging or terrorist tagging, a policy that has been repeatedly proven by the United Nations Special Rapporteurs that lead to the extrajudicial killings, trumped-up charges and other human rights violations.
They added that an investigation such as the issue of the “missing minors” should not be repeated “where unconfirmed accusations were presented that resulted in the filing of a fabricated case against a Representative, and some Makabayan officials and members.”
This case was dismissed by the Department of Justice due to lack of evidence.
In a separate letter to the Senate, Gabriela Women’s Partylist Rep. Arlene Brosas said, “the Senate must also redirect its time and attention on the still unresolved issues attached to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), especially as the latter seeks a P19.1-billion funding next year despite having no clear authority to obligate and spend public funds.”
“But as we have seen, the rabid military generals like General Parlade resorted to a red-tagging spree against us and the entire Makabayan bloc because they cannot justify the relevance of a publicly funded task force amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” Brosas said.
‘Only a show’
Meanwhile, Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay expressed their condemnation and disappointment over the hearing which they said has turned out to be NTF-ELCAC “roadshow for its deranged red-tagging spree and a dry-run of a meeting of the Anti-Terrorism Council’s arbitrary terror-tagging of individuals and people’s organizations — setting them all up for graver violations such as further threats and harassment, arrests, detention, and even killings.”
As the nation reels from the destruction of the typhoon and continued socio-economic impacts of the pandemic, Palabay said that the hearing is not only ill-timed but “a foreboding of the things to come when the Anti-Terrorism Act is fully implemented.”
She added that the hearing “reeks of malicious accusations and unfounded statements already debunked by court rulings, including the recent decisions of the Supreme Court and Department of Justice on the baseless cases driven by the NTF-ELCAC.”
Meanwhile, Amnesty International called on the government to end what they described as deadly practice of red-tagging.
The group said that the government should address legitimate criticism of its policies and practices rather than maligning and endangering people’s lives by exercising their freedom of expression.