Senate panel: No need for law vs red-tagging

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    THE Senate committee on national defense and security, peace, and unification said there is no need for a new measure that will criminalize red-tagging because legal remedies for offended parties already exist.

    This was contained in a report issued by the panel, headed by Sen. Panfilo Lacson, after conducting three hearings on alleged red-tagging by the Armed Forces.

    The committee said the Revised Penal Code, the Civil Code, the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, and the Philippine Act on Crimes against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and other Crimes against Humanity are some of the existing laws that can be availed of aggrieved persons or groups.

    “Legal remedies, as exhaustively discussed in this Committee Report, are sufficient and available for personalities or groups that have been subject of the so-called red tagging, and which some of them have already availed of as evidenced by cases filed in the Ombudsman,” said the committee report dated February 22.

    The committee also said progressive groups whose young members were killed during encounters between state forces and the New People’s Army “should be able to address the issue other than general denials of their non-involvement with the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front).”

    The committee also urged the Makabayan bloc at the House of Representatives “to openly and strongly denounce the CPP-NPA-NDF for its actual acts of aggression against the duly-constituted government and against the people to disassociate themselves from the armed struggle.”

    The committee said it observed that progressive groups were quick to condemn alleged human rights violations committed by the PNP and AFP but refused to denounce and disown the communist group when asked by the panel.

    The committee said it recognizes that progressive groups have no legal responsibilities “as freedom of expression includes the right not to speak.”

    “However, it is the position of the Committee that, as government officials who have taken their oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, they (Makabayan bloc members) have the very least the moral obligation to condemn the atrocities perpetrated by the CPP-NPA-NDF,” the committee report added.

    The committee also recommended that the security sector be cautious in making public pronouncements “as these carry with it semblance of authority from the State,” citing a blunder of the military in its Facebook post which identified some students who joined the NPA who have either died or were captured by state forces.

    Also, the committee said comments made by Southern Luzon Command chief Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade about certain individuals he tagged as members of the communist movement, has placed the government’s anti-insurgency campaign in a bad light.

    Parlade is also spokesman of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

    The committee said that Parlade holding concurrent roles as Southern Luzon Command chief and NTF-ELCAC spokesman creates “confusion over his accountability and answerability” since AFP chief of staff Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said that “his hands are tied with Lt. Gen. Parlade” when the latter implied that a reporter was a terrorist “propagandist” when she came out with a story unfavorable to the military, as Parlade issued the statement in his capacity as NTF-ELCAC spokesman.

    “The case presents a conflict of interest prejudicial to the military sector’s established chain of command and prescribed disciplinary powers. More so, Lt. Gen. Parlade donning a military uniform during his interviews and other public representations, obviously stands for the Armed Forces of the Philippines even in his capacity as spokesperson of NTF-ELCAC,” the committee said.

    “Hence, his pronouncements are inevitably and instinctively attributable to the military sector” it added.