Makabayan bloc disputes Senate report on red tagging probe

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 26 2021 05:55 PM

Makabayan bloc disputes Senate report on red tagging probe 1
Women's rights advocates picket in front of Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City on October 28, 2020 calling against red-tagging of activists and human rights defenders. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – Members of the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives disputed Friday the findings of a Senate panel that investigated the alleged policy of the state to link activists and dissenters to the communist movement. 

The more than 60-page report of the Senate committee on national defense said that there is no need to criminalize red tagging because legal remedies are in place to protect the victims. 

But in a statement, ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro said she disagreed with the report, claiming it merely echoed the government's pronouncements

"We disagree with the Senate report's affirmation that red-tagging is not a policy of the state, which merely echoed the pronouncements made by officials leading the administration's counterinsurgency effort," Castro said. 

In a joint statement, the bloc said they are dismayed that the report "refused to acknowledge the direct link between red tagging by government agents and the perpetration of human rights violations."

"This is truly the crux of the matter and the major failing of the report. The Committee has been too quick to devalue the testimony of victims of red-tagging who have suffered actual violations of their rights, while invoking exemption from the rules of evidence and according presumption of regularity in its appreciation of the largely hearsay testimony... Red tagging kills, and those responsible must be held accountable," they said. 

The Makabayan bloc is made up of Castro, Bayan Muna Party-list Representatives Carlos Zarate, Ferdinand Gaite, and Eufemia Cullamat, Gabriela Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas, and Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago. 

They likewise disagreed with the Senate report claiming legal remedies are available for red-tagged individuals. 

"Current legal remedies are insufficient, defective and lacking. Human rights violators have largely escaped accountability. Experience has shown that even with the protective writs (habeas corpus, amparo, data), victims remain vulnerable to harassment and fail to deter attacks," they said. 

The bloc, however, welcomed the portion of the report that censured Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, spokesman of the controversial National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, who has been criticized for linking celebrities and other personalities to the communist movement.

"While we strongly disagree with the premises, findings, and conclusions outlined in the report, we nevertheless welcome some of its specific recommendations. This includes the censure of Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr.'s reckless and negligent red-tagging statements, which provides more than enough grounds for his sacking as NTF-ELCAC spokersperson and dismissal from the service for "conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman," they said.