64 lawmakers cross party lines to 'demand' end to crackdown on progressive groups
MANILA, Philippines – At least 64 members in the House of Representatives crossed party lines to condemn the government’s ongoing crackdown on progressive groups.
On Thursday, November 14, the legislators signed a petition to "demand" an end to the "attacks" against progressive organizations, among them party-list groups represented by 6 Makabayan lawmakers currently serving in the 18th Congress.
"We, members of the House of Representatives, air our growing concern on the ongoing crackdown against progressive groups like the Makabayan bloc and the opposition," read the petition.
"We are united in expressing our concern on the attacks on the elected representatives, members, and supporters of the Makabayan bloc, and demand that these be stopped immediately. Such attacks have no place in a democracy," the lawmakers added.
Among the signatories were 3 House deputy speakers: Rosemarie Arenas (Pangasinan 3rd District), Evelina Escudero (Sorsogon 1st District), and Eduardo Villanueva (CIBAC). House Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante (Manila 6th District) also signed the petition.
The House members also praised the following Makabayan legislators for being a "productive and dynamic" part of the House minority:
- Eufemia Cullamat, Carlos Zarate, and Ferdinand Gaite, Bayan Muna
- France Castro, Alliance of Concerned Teachers
- Arlene Brosas, Gabriela Women's Party
- Sarah Elago, Kabataan
"[The Makabayan bloc's] members properly perform their role as credible fiscalizers of the administration, wholly within the bounds of the Constitution," said the lawmakers.
It was only over a week ago when the Gabriela Women's Party was red-tagged by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Department of National Defense, which accused the party-list group and 17 other organizations of being alleged communist fronts.
Brosas called it a "clear attempt to criminalize dissent and weaponize the law." (READ: Red-tagged Oxfam, NCCP slam military for 'malicious, careless' attack)
On November 5, the Manila police arrested 3 members of progressive groups during a raid in Tondo, while law enforcers in Bacolod City also arrested 56 persons affiliated with progressive and human rights groups during raids on their offices on October 31.
The Bacolod City Prosecutor's Office already ordered the immediate release of 31 individuals for lack of probable cause behind their arrest. – Rappler.com