MANILA – Rights group Karapatan has documented more cases of red-tagging, this time, in Quezon City.
The group said Sunday that colored posters were put up in Diliman, Quezon City over the weekend accusing it and the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) of using foreign funds supposedly to support the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), New People’s Army (NPA) and the National Democratic Front (NDF).
In one poster, the photo of RMP national coordinator Sr. Elenita Belardo was placed behind bars.
Belardo was recently charged with perjury supposedly for lying under oath in claiming that RMP was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission in the writ of amparo petition filed by RMP, Karapatan and Gabriela against high-ranking government officials over alleged threats to their members’ lives and security. The petition was eventually junked by the Court of Appeals.
The 80-year-old nun posted bail Friday.
In another poster, the 3 groups were labeled “persona non grata” and accused of being “fronts” of the CPP-NPA-NDF, similar to posters seen by the National Union of People’s Lawyers in General Santos City on Friday accusing progressive groups of being communist fronts.
“Karapatan condemns yet again another vile attempt undoubtedly by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, a government superbody that is wasting public funds for militarist designs, to stigmatize church and human rights workers and their organizations as liars and as legal front of the CPP-NPA-NDF,” Karapatan said in a statement.
“Such acts of vilification are not only acts of mindless vandals in government; these incite violence on Sr. Elen as well as other church and rights workers,” it added.
Asked for their basis in claiming NTFELCAC’s involvement in the dissemination of the posters, Karapatan Secretary General Tinay Palabay said they believe the signatory to the posters, a group called “Bayan Natin,” is one of the non-governmental/civil society organizations that the task force is working with in its “whole-of-nation” approach against alleged “communists-terrorists” and their “front organizations.”
The NTFELCAC was created by virtue of Executive Order 70 issued by President Rodrigo Duterte in December 2018 to address the “root causes of insurgencies, internal disturbances and tensions, and other armed conflicts and threats” supposedly by focusing on the delivery of basic services and social development packages by the government.
It is headed by the President and composed of various government agencies.
Progressive groups have denounced the issuance of the EO and the creation of the task force as an attempt to go after and silence the government’s critics.
In May this year, NTFELCAC filed a cancellation of registration case against Gabriela before the Commission on Elections allegedly for receiving foreign funding.
Karapatan claimed in their writ of amparo petition that the task force supposedly met with different United Nations and European Union bodies in an attempt to brand them as communist fronts.
In their petition, Karapatan also cited posters vilifying NUPL lawyers, similar to the posters in Quezon City and General Santos City.
“Posted days before the International Human Rights Day, these materials embody acts of desperation by a government which is being held accountable for its total disregard of people’s and human rights,” the group said.