MANILA— Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Wednesday urged the military to back with evidence claims implicating individuals or groups involved in the communist insurgency.
Speaking on ANC’s Matters of Fact, Año, a former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff, stressed that red-tagging anyone without evidence was unfair.
“I would suggest to military to back up their claims and I think they have evidences (sic) and they will come out in the open once there's a proper forum,” he said. “But of course, it's not fair to just mention any name or an organization without any particular evidence."
For Año, one of the best ways to solve communist insurgency, which he said is among President Rodrigo Duterte’s priorities until the end of his term in 2022, “is to go in court and file charges.”
Red-baiting, defined by the Supreme Court in 2011 as an act of labeling individuals or organizations as being left-leaning, subversives, communists or terrorists, did not start from government forces, he noted.
“It was actually Jose Maria Sison who first red-tagged these organizations in his speech in one international forum in 2003. He named these organizations including some party-list organizations,” said Año, who also served as Philippine Army Commanding General.
“So it’s really Joma Sison who started all these. The military is just being factual and the PNP,” added Año, who now oversees the 205,000-strong police force.
Sison is the founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). He lives in self-imposed exile in the Netherlands.
But Año said issuing a gag order to the military in expressing their views, especially to Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. who was embroiled in a red-tagging controversy involving some celebrities, is not fair.
“I would just caution him to go to factual details so that it would stand. Do not make generalizations and he can present the evidences (sic) in court,” he said.
Parlade, spokeperson of the government’s anti-insurgency task force, is among the best officers in the AFP, Año added.
"Giving a gag order to Gen. Parlade is not fair because he's a very effective communicator and a very good AFP officer," he said.