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SF Fil-Ams cry foul over alleged red-tagging by PH gov't

Rommel Conclara | TFC News San Francisco

Posted at Jan 09 2023 09:00 AM

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Filipino American activists recently gathered outside of the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco to voice their frustrations after they heard reports that there was a US speaking tour featuring the Philippines' Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC).

The ATC was created after the passage of 'The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020,' which punishes anyone officials deem to have incited terrorism through 'speeches, proclamations, writings, emblems, banners and other representations.'

"Learning about the Anti-Terror Council coming to the US really affirmed our fears that there was an overseas implementation of the council which, in the Philippines, we know as the council or the folks who arbitrarily decide who is a 'terrorist'," Pyxie Castillo of Gabriela USA said.

The activists noted that the red-tagging of Fil-Am activists has continued since the passage of the anti-terror law under the Duterte administration.

"San Francisco State here in SF has been tagged, the whole community, for doing things like vigils for the killing of Lumads as they continue to heighten the campaign to defend Lumad struggles," Castillo said.

In 2019, Brandon Lee, a Chinese American activist living in the Philippines, was shot by unknown assailants, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down. He said it was an assasination attempt by the Philippine government for his work defending the indigenous community in Ifugao province.

Lee and his advocates have been asking for an audience with the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco to insist that his attack is an example of red tagging. The meeting has yet to happen.

"We’ve been trying to meet with them but they haven’t heard. And we’ll keep trying. We’ll keep speaking up for the Filipino community," Lee said.

For his part, SF supervisor Gordon Mar pointed out, "as public officials and representatives of our government, we have a responsibility to listen and engage with everybody in our community. So it’s pretty shocking to see what’s happening here at the lack of basic communication with the Filipino community here around these urgent issues here at the Philippine Consulate."

The consulate has not responded to ABS-CBN News' request to comment on the protest.

In July of 2020, 50 US lawmakers urged then-Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte to repeal the anti-terror law, saying it is a threat to human rights.