The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) clarified on Friday that it is not red-tagging celebrities Liza Soberano and Catriona Gray but only reminding the two women to be wary of the groups getting in touch with them.
In a radio interview, lawyer Marlon Bosantog, NTF ELCAC legal cooperation cluster spokesperson, said role models like celebrities and showbiz personalities may give a sense of legitimacy to the advocacies being pushed forward by leftist organizations such as the Gabriela Youth.
Soberano recently participated in and was one of the speakers in an event led by Gabriela.
Bosantog, also Director for Legal Affairs of the National Commission of Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), said NTF ELCAC spokesperson Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade was not red-tagging Soberano nor Gray when he called out their attention.
“Gen. Parlade did not red-tag Liza and Catriona, what he was saying was that the organizations getting in touch with them are leftist organizations and are allies of the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front) like the Gabriela Youth that invited Liza Soberano, taking advantage of her popularity so they could recruit or give a sense of legitimacy to their advocacy,” Bosantog said in a mix of English and Filipino.
“They were not red-tagged by saying that they are members of the CPP-NPA-NDF because that is red-tagging when someone says that you are a member but he did not say that,” he added.
Gov’t critics not arrested
Bosantog said the government does not arrest any person or individual just because they criticize the government.
“Sa nangyayari ngayon, lahat naman ay nagbibigay ng dissent or criticism against the government wala namang hinuhuli kahit isa. Kailangang gumawa ka ng paglabag sa batas o paglabag sa penal provision (Today, everyone gives their dissenting opinions or criticism against the government but not even one was arrested. One has to commit a violation of the law or to the penal provision),” he added.
Bosantog said the NTF ELCAC has filed more than a thousand cases against the CPP-NPA-NDF because these organizations have committed murder, arson and other terroristic acts.
He said cases of kidnapping and serious illegal detention have also been filed before the Department of Justice against Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago for recruiting youth to become members of the NPA, the armed wing of the communist movement.
On the Gabriela party-list group, Bosantog said they have filed cases asking for its disqualification because it is advocating the use of violence that is a violation under the Philippine Constitution.
He assured that the NTF ELCAC follows due process.
Adhering to advocacy
Red-tagging, he said, is a very generic term.
“It pertains to pag-associate mo sa isang tao sa ideology ng communism sinasabi mong sila ay naniniwala sa idolihya ng komunismo at yan ay hind labag sa batas (It pertains to associating an individual to the ideology of communism saying that they believe in the ideology of communism and that is not against the law),” he added.
He said what the NTF ELCAC is doing is to protect legitimate dissent and stop the use of criticism to promote the advocacies of the CPP-NPA-NDF.
“Hindi tayo pwedeng mag arrest basta basta ng isang tao ng wala naman tayong legal basis na binigay ng korte kasi korte lang ang pwedeng makapagsabi na sige arrest yang tao na yan (we cannot just arrest a person without any legal basis issued by the court because only the court can order the arrest of an individual),” he said.
Bosantog estimated that about 60,000 to150,000 people were killed because of the communist movement’s terroristic activities while millions were displaced in its 53 years of armed struggle.
To date, he said the alleged front organizations of the CPP-NPA-NDF like the League of Filipino Students, Anakbayan, and Anakpawis are recruiting on behalf of the armed group, targeting students who are in their senior high school.
“Maging mapagmatyag lamang. Hindi masama na sumali sa mga school organizations, tama yan that’s part of growing up but just be careful on these organizations lalo pag sinasabi nila na pumunta tayo ng immersion, mga ganong scene dinadala yung mga tao sa mga liblib na lugar (Be observant. It is not against the law to join school organizations, that’s part of growing up but just be careful on these organizations most especially when they say that they will bring you to do immersions in the provinces),” he said.