REP. Sarah Jane Elago of the party-list group Kabataan yesterday filed administrative complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman against officials of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) for alleged harassment by red-tagging her.
Named respondents in the 28-page complaint were Maj. Gen. Antonio Parlade, commander of the Southern Luzon Command and task force spokesman; Presidential Communications Operations Office Undersecretary Lorraine Marie Badoy; Alex Paul Monteagudo, director of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency; Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana; Interior Secretary Eduardo Año; and National Security adviser and NTF-ELCAC vice chairman Hermogenes Esperon Jr.
Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen defined red-tagging as the labeling or branding or individuals or organizations as subversives, communists or terrorists to portray them as enemies of the State.
Elago tagged the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group for backing the filing of criminal complaints against her for supposedly radicalizing and recruiting a student activist to join an armed rebel group.
She noted that the Department of Justice dismissed the complaint on October 26 for lack of probable cause.
Despite this, she said, the NTF-ELCAC continued and even stepped up attacks against her and members of Kabataan party-list and the Makabayan bloc of the House of Representatives of which she is a member.
“Between May 2020 and the present, respondents commonly peddled false news and other disinformation against my person and have harassed and attacked not only me but those whom I represent. The NTF-ELCAC Facebook page has been a primary source of these attacks of red-tagging that have put into question my integrity as a representative of the youth,” Elago said.
Attached to the complaint were screen grabs of social media posts and personal Facebook pages of the respondents, showing name-calling and personal attacks.
Among the instances cited were Parlade’s post referring to the Makabayan bloc as “Kamatayan bloc” and naming her as a member of the New People’s Army; Badoy’s reference to her as a high-ranking member of the Communist Party of the Philippines and accusing her of plotting to destroy the government; Monteagudo for calling her a part of a terrorist organization that has killed thousands of Filipinos; Lorenzana for saying there were some basis to social media posts naming her as an NPA recruiter and for condoning red-tagging; and Esperon for confirming that she and other lawmakers in the Makabayan bloc are being monitored.
“Far from achieving its goal of peace, however, the resources of the NTF-ELCAC have been used instead to silence the political opposition and most dissenters and attack the work that they do both online and offline,” Elago said.
Elago clarified that membership to the Kabataan group is voluntary and that its status as an organization is protected by the Constitution after earning a seat in the House.
“Red-tagging attaches upon me the status of being a rebel, which in some instances, has been interchanged with terrorist – a combatant, a participant in the armed conflict – despite being a non-party,” she said.
She said the actions of the respondents constitute “grave misconduct and malfeasance” in office, violation of human rights, and a waste of government resources.
Armed Forces chief Gen. Gilbert Gapay said he wants members of the Makabayan bloc charged and unseated as lawmakers due to their links with the CPP and the NPA.
In a radio interview, Gapay said the military has enough evidence to pin down the members of the Makabayan bloc who are representing front organizations of the communist movement.
“We will now pursue the legal track dito ano. Kasi kailangang kasuhan na tong mga ito; dapat nang tanggalin na to bilang party list ano sa Kongreso. (We will now pursue the legal track. We have to charge them; they should be unseated as party-list representatives in Congress),” said Gapay.
Gapay said the lawmakers have sworn to protect the interest of the republic but they – as members communist front organizations, have an “ulterior motive” which is to pursue the communist armed struggle.
Gapay said the military has “solid evidence” to prove the connection of these lawmakers to the CPP-NPA, including documents recovered by soldiers in skirmishes with communist rebels and testimonies of rebels who surrendered.
Gapay described the Makabayan bloc members as “denial kings and queens.”
Gapay said the military will continue to exert efforts to raise public awareness against personalities and organizations associated with the communist movement. He said the AFP is not “red-tagging” but “truth-tagging.”
“We are unmasking these personalities and organizations involved and (linked) with the CPP-NPA-NDF whose ultimate goal is to overthrow our government and supplant our democratic ways with communist rule,” he said. – With Victor Reyes