MANILA— The chief of the Department of the Interior and Local Government sees nothing wrong with posting messages denouncing communist rebels or terrorist groups in the country, claiming it is protected speech under the Constitution.
“The expressions of sentiment against the CPP-NPA-NDF atrocities are free speech and are legally protected under the Constitution," said said Interior Secretary Eduardo Año.
He was referring to the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People's Army and the National Democratic Front.
"Remember, these are the terrorists' groups driven by an archaic ideology who have been killing our police and soldiers and extorting from innocent civilians for the past 50 years. It is just right that people denounce them for their crimes against the people,” said Año in a statement.
Año added that it cannot be considered as red-tagging.
"How can these be “red-tagging” when they are Communists or Reds by their own admission?” he said.
The DILG chief also claimed that it is CPP Founder Jose Maria Sison who had red-tagged the groups in the first place.
“In Belgium, Sison clearly named their open sectoral front organizations as part of their United Front building. Unmasking these groups controlled and directed by the Communist Party of the Philippines through party branches embedded in them is the solemn duty of government. Otherwise, we will not be doing our duty,” he said.
Tarpaulins and banners declaring the CPP-NPA-NDF as persona non grata were recently put up along Roxas Boulevard and other areas in Metro Manila. Manila Mayor Isko Moreno ordered that those within his city be taken down.
Año said certain groups that disapprove of communist rebels may have been behind the tarpaulins.
“I believe these tarpaulins are mere expressions of citizens or certain groups that they are fed up with abuses and atrocities perpetrated by the CPP-NPA-NDF," he said.
"I welcome such kind of expression to send the message to the CPP-NPA-NDF that they are not welcome in the National Capital Region, just like in other provinces, cities, and municipalities all over the country.”
Año, a former Army general, even encouraged local government units to voice their opposition against rebels.
DILG Usec and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said that 20,085 LGUs nationwide (60 provinces, 96 cities, 1,204 municipalities, and 18,698 barangays have issued resolutions declaring the CPP/NPA/NDF as persona-non-grata or unwelcome in their respective LGUs.
In NCR, Mandaluyong City and Muntinlupa City have passed resolutions against the CPP/NPA/NDF as well.
Malaya said that the CPP/NPA/NDF has been declared in the country as a terrorist group through Proclamation 374 s. 2017 while other countries like the US, New Zealand, UK, Australia, the European Union have also declared them as terrorist organizations.