'Chief red-tagger' Duterte aims to destroy opposition in May polls: solon
MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday blasted the country's party-list system, saying it allowed too many sectors to have a say in government, allegedly including communists.
"Totoo 'yan, nakapasok sila sa Congress, the party-list. Eh alam mo, bright kasi 'yung gumawa noon eh," Duterte said in a taped national address.
(That's true, they have infiltrated Congress, the party-list. The one who made this law was bright.)
While Duterte named the party-lists, ABS-CBN News did not post them in this article until his allegations are independently verified.
Without evidence, Duterte said these groups are legal fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People's Army.
"Makita naman ninyo sa behavior nila and the way they espouse their advocacy... Left ang talagang drift nila," he said.
(You can see from their behavior and the way they espouse their advocacy. Their drift is really to the left.)
"Ang problema, they are supporting ... They are really legal fronts ng Communist Party of the Philippines."
(The problem is, they are supporting... They are really legal fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines.)
Duterte also said these party-lists are espousing to "end this government".
"And they are espousing an advocacy that in the end ang gusto nila, tapusin itong gobyerno na ito. This government was not imposed upon the people. This government was created or established through legal means. Noon pa, noong nag-republic tayo," he said.
(And they are espousing an advocacy that in the end will finish this government. This government was not imposed upon the people. This government was created or established through legal means, way before, when we became a republic.)
"Ang problema ginagamit nila ang pera, kinukuha nila ang pera ng gobyerno at binubuhay nila ang NPA. They are supporting a bunch of ... Wala na silang ideology," Duterte added.
(The problem is they are using government funds to support the NPA. They are supporting a bunch of people with no ideology.)
Established in 1995 through Republic Act 7941 or the Party-list System Act, the party-list system "is a mechanism of proportional representation in the election of representatives to the House of Representatives from national, regional and sectoral parties or organizations or coalitions thereof registered with the Commission on Elections (Comelec)."
This is not the first time Duterte claimed that the progressive party-lists in the House of Representatives were "legal fronts" for the CPP-NPA. Back in 2017, he threatened to arrest their members, following the collapse of the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
Duterte, a former student of CPP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison, had sought to end the nearly 50-year communist insurgency early in his term, even appointing left-leaning individuals to his Cabinet as a demonstration of warming ties between government and the communist movement.
Government officials and negotiators from the NDFP held 4 rounds of talks in Europe, where Sison is based, before Duterte suspended negotiations in May 2017.
The talks stalled following armed clashes between government troops and communist guerrillas.
The Makabayan bloc of lawmakers, whose members are often victims of red-tagging, have repeatedly denied links with the CPP-NPA.
Duterte's red-tagging of left-leaning groups is a "partisan ploy" to "destroy the opposition" in the May elections, said Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Carlos Zarate.
"This is clearly a partisan political ploy coming ex cathedra from Malacañang itself. Despite the so-called neutral stand of Duterte of not endorsing yet a candidate, his candidate is the son of former dictator and they want to destroy this early the broad opposition that is now coming together," he told ANC's Headstart.
The President's daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio is running for vice president in tandem with the son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. has secured the backing of a faction of the PDP-Laban party backed by the Duterte patriarch.
"We condemn this," Zarate said of the alleged red-tagging.
"The chief red-tagger President Duterte is doing it again... Clearly they're doing this during the time of election not only to attack Makabayan bloc but to attack the opposition. They are linking massive rallies being conducted by the camp of Vice President Leni [Robredo and claiming] that it is being infiltrated by the underground movement," he added.
The Makabayan bloc can deliver some 3.5 million votes for Robredo, said Zarate.
He reiterated that the bloc is composed of "left parties advocating a genuine transformation and changes not only in governance but whole gamut of problems that are now confronting us as a people and as a country."
Zarate said the next administration must adopt an independent foreign policy that does not side with any superpowers.
"Ang ating foreign policy is parang namamangka sa 2 ilog... Eventually we will be crushed, tayo ang tatamaan n'yan," he said.
(Our foreign policy is we're like rowing between 2 rivers... Eventually we will be crushed, it will hit us.)
"Most of our neighboring countries are engaging these foreign powers, pursuing their own interest. Why can't we do that?"