MANILA - Philippine National Police Chief Gen. Debold Sinas on Thursday gave no comment when asked whether his agency is monitoring individuals and groups President Rodrigo Duterte tagged as legal front of the country's communist movement.
In a weekly address aired Monday evening, Duterte said the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives serve as legal front of the insurgency movement. The bloc is composed of six party-list lawmakers from Bayan Muna, ACT Teachers, Gabriela, and Kabataan.
In an interview on ANC's Headstart, Sinas said Duterte may have information for him to be able to make such comments.
"Iyong sinasabi ng Presidente, si Presidente iyon. Maraming information siya na beyond our control, beyond me," Sinas said.
(The President makes his own statements. He has information beyond our control, beyond me.)
Asked if the PNP is monitoring those mentioned in Duterte's speech, Sinas said: "No comment po kami dun."
"Alam na rin nila ang procedures d'yan. Now, kung ni-name sila ni Presidente, maraming alam si Presidente na hindi namin alam. Kung ano po yung direktiba, sa amin na lang po yun," he said.
(They know the procedures there. If they were named by the President, the President must know many things that we don't. As to the directive, we'll keep that to ourselves.)
"As to the safety nila, alam na rin nila yun. Puwede naman silang makipag-ugnayan kaagad at sabihin, magpatotoo na hindi sila legal front. They have all the time," he added.
(As to their safety, they also know that. They can communicate with us, tell us, prove to us that they are not legal fronts. They have all the time.)
Pressed if this meant the lawmakers can request for security detail, Sinas said the PNP has procedures on this, but noted that this might be difficult.
"Paano naman natin ise-secure kung kami nga ang unang sinisisi nila? Baka sabihin, bantay-salakay. It’s balancing din," he said.
(How will we secure them when we are first to be blamed? They might say we're guarding to assault. It has to be balanced.)
Duterte's tirade came after Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Eufemia Cullamat's daughter Jevilyn was killed in a clash between soldiers and communist rebels in Marihatag town, Surigao del Sur last week.
The military drew flak after a picture of Jevilyn's remains, posed as though she was still carrying a rifle, with soldiers and a display of firearms, made rounds online.
After Duterte's televised remarks, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) said it will seek the disqualification of the progressive groups in future elections.
The Commission on Human Rights warned government against red-tagging individuals as it "endangers lives."
"They should observe the principle of distinction in doing red-tagging because clearly there must be a delineation between those who think different against government and those who have taken up arms against government," CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said last Tuesday.
Amid the spate of red-tagging reports a few months back, the Commission on Human Rights, in a statement in May, reminded the government that the repeal of the Anti-Subversion Law in 1992 also meant that being part of the Communist Party of the Philippines is no longer illegal.
"The challenge before those who accuse is to prove allegations of any illegal act before fair and competent courts," de Guia said then.