MANILA — Ella Colmenares, sister of actress Angel Locsin, said Thursday that standing up for human rights does not make one a terrorist, as she replied to being red-tagged by a military official alleging she has ties with the communist New People’s Army (NPA).
“Like many of you, I am an ordinary Filipino, a mother, living my life day to day, earning a living for my family for many years,” Ella wrote on Twitter.
“I have been living peacefully until this peace has been destroyed by a statement, red-tagging me with no basis except for the words of a single man.”
An official of the government’s National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) earlier claimed that Ella is a sympathizer of the NPA.
Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. mentioned Ella as he warned actress Liza Soberano on her ties with Gabriela Youth, after she appeared as a speaker in a webinar about children and women’s welfare hosted by the women’s rights group.
“The choice is yours Liza. And so with you Catriona,” he said on Facebook, also mentioning Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray. “Don’t follow the path Ka Ella Colmenares (Locsin) took in the underground and NPA Quezon. I am sure Angel Locsin and Neri Colmenares will not tell you this.”
Parlade was referring to activist and human rights lawyer, former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, a relative of Ella and Angel.
Ella said she feels no need to defend herself against Parlade’s accusation. She, however, said she decided to speak up “not just for myself but also for my children, whose lives may have been endangered because of this reckless red-tagging being broadcasted on social media.”
“Yes, I believe in the protection of women’s rights and human rights, the same advocacies that Angel and Neri fight for, but so do millions of Filipinos across the country. That doesn’t mean that I’m a member of the NPA as what is being claimed.”
Hours prior to Ella’s post, Angel shared on Instagram a family photo at home where they are seen celebrating another sibling’s birthday, belying the claim that Ella is “underground.”
“With our controversial sister na nasa underground daw sa Quezon,” Angel wrote with a laughing emoji.
In her statement, Ella continued: “Practicing our constitutional rights that we are entitled of, expressing our opinions and having a belief different from others does not entail that one should be red-tagged.”
She then expressed support for Soberano and Gray, as well as other celebrities “who are being red-tagged simply because they speak about their advocacies.”
Prior to the controversial red-tagging of Soberano, Angel, an internationally recognized philanthropist, faced similar attacks due to her activism and critical statements against the government.
“I am earnestly appealing to my fellow Filipinos, ordinary citizens like me, to express support for those being targeted merely because they are expressing their opinions,” Ella said.
“Let us stop the cycle of hate and instead, discuss the merits of the issues being raised,” she wrote, ending with the hashtag #ActivistsNotTerrorists.