MANILA - Bayan Muna Chairman Neri Colmenares said Monday putting him under surveillance without a court order is harassment, as he dared government to file a case against him if there was evidence that he is a communist rebel.
Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., spokesperson of the government's National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), earlier said Colmenares, former representative of the party-list group to Congress, was being monitored.
Under the Anti-Terrorism Law of 2020 surveillance of anyone who the government wants to proscribe should have affirmation from a special division of the Court of Appeals, said Colmenares.
"Wala pa namang (There's no) special division of the Court of Appeals. Where did they ask the court order to conduct surveillance against people they want to proscribe?" he told ANC's Headstart.
"They are in government, they have all the means and the resources, and everybody is intimidated by them. Why didn’t they file cases against me for example?" he said.
Colmenares noted that in the same interview where Parlade revealed that he was under surveillance, the military official also said government is still in the process of consolidating evidence against him.
"He admitted, there is no evidence yet. So please stop, as your Secretary of National Defense said—kung wala kang ebidensya, tama ka na muna dyan," he said.
"You inform people, 'You’re under surveillance.' Isn’t that harassment?...Why say that? But he said that. I think the intention is also to threaten me," he added.
The former lawmaker admitted he is "afraid" of extrajudicial killings, so much that he drives in the innermost lanes to avoid motorcycles riding past him.
"But what we’re doing is what we believe is our function in Congress or outside Congress. We just would like to discuss the merits, that’s what we ask the military," he said.
Colmenares said he is a leftist, but that is not a crime.
TO FILE CASES AFTER DUTERTE REGIME
Colmenares, a human rights lawyer, said he plans to file a case, but is "seriously considering how to file it, where to file it" because he believes "under President Duterte’s administration, everybody’s intimidated."
"We can file now or we can file in 2022. Anyway, President Duterte won’t be there, it’s only 18 months away. The moment President Duterte’s term ends, definitely, there will be cases filed against them because of what they did not just to me, but other persons like the celebrities he red-tagged," he said.
But he noted, Parlade's admission that he is under surveillance but without court affirmation may be a point to be raised before the Supreme Court, where the Anti-Terrorism Law is being challenged.
"From the admission of Gen. Parlade himself, there is no judicial order here…One of the things we will raise before the Supreme Court that the supposed safeguards are not really in place because the military has admitted to violating them, surveillance without judicial order," he said.