MANILA – Former party-list lawmaker Teddy Casiño on Thursday rejected what he described as unsubstantiated allegations that he is a member of the Philippine communist insurgency movement.
“I was not recruited to the communist party. I am not a member of the communist party. I am a national democrat. I have a socialist perspective,” he told ANC.
“I believe in the many teachings of Marx but does that make me a member of the communist party? Does that make me a member of the New People’s Army (NPA)? Does that make me a terrorist?”
Casiño, who used to represent the progressive group Bayan Muna in Congress, was reacting to an accusation made by Jeffrey "Ka Eric" Celiz that he was a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
Celiz, who claims to be a former member of the armed communist movement, was the military’s star witness in a Senate hearing Tuesday on red-tagging.
As a former national president of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), Casiño said he knew Celiz nearly 3 decades ago as member of a student publication in Iloilo.
“On the basis of my being the national president of the College Editors Guild, he makes this incredible jump that therefore I’m a ranking leader of the Communist Party of the Philippines, which is not true at all and I deny that,” he said.
Casiño also called on government forces to stop red-tagging individuals and organizations fighting for legitimate causes without presenting evidence as these imperil their lives.
“They're actually tagging us as terrorist. But the question is, what terrorist acts have we committed? Is fighting for land reform a terrorist act? Is organizing labor union a terrorist act? Is fighting against large-scale mining a terrorist act? Is defending the West Philippine Sea a terrorist act?” he said.
Casiño maintained that the Bayan Muna party-list does not espouse the armed overthrow of the government. Instead, the group is pushing for agrarian reform, labor rights, women equality and environment protection, among others.
“We are not engaged in the armed overthrow of the state and we don’t resort to arms to achieve those objectives,” he said. “Ang trabaho namin (Our job) is to organize sector, to empower them so they are able to fight for their rights.”
Self-exiled communist leader Jose Maria Sison on Wednesday denied anew he identified progressive groups as communist front amid allegations he was to blame for red-tagging.
He accused the military of splicing a 1988 video of him in a forum in Belgium to make it appear that groups such as Bayan Muna, Gabriela and Alliance of Concerned Teachers were allied to their cause.
Sison stressed legal democratic forces were different from the armed revolutionary underground.