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Parlade says Leftist lawmakers under surveillance

The 6 lawmakers in the Makabayan bloc are under the surveillance of the Philippine military, Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) chief Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr said on Monday, October 26.

"It’s all the members of the… Makabayan bloc being members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). They are card-bearing members of the CPP," Parlade said in an interview with ANC.

Aside from the Makabayan bloc, Parlade said former congressman and human rights lawyer Neri Colmenares was also under their watch.

He said the surveillance was because of the passage of the anti-terror law, which the government earlier said would target terrorists.

Under the Duterte administration, the CPP - New People's Army was declared a terrorist group following attacks on soldiers and policemen.

The general did not offer definitive proof of the lawmakers' involvement in the armed revolutionary movement. He only said the military obtained incriminating information against them from communist surrenderers.

Who is the Makabayan bloc?

The Makabayan bloc is a group of 6 lawmakers belonging to Left-leaning political parties, namely:

  • Bayan Muna Representatives Deputy Minority Leader Carlos Zarate, Eufemia Cullamat, and Ferdinand Gaite
  • Gabriela Women's Party Representative Arlene Brosas
  • ACT Teachers Representative France Castro
  • Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago

The members of the bloc are staunch critics of the government and have been slamming the military for its allotment of billions-worth of funds to end local insurgency instead of spending the money on responding to the pandemic. (READ: The generals’ pork? Duterte eyes P16.4-B fund for anti-communist task force)

The bloc's members have long been red-tagged by the government. The military's propaganda earned the ire of the public after Parlade red-tagged popular actress Liza Soberano for speaking at an online forum on women's rights that was organized by Gabriela.

The Makabayan bloc's defense

The bloc slammed Parlade for red-tagging and surveilling them without basis.

"They pushed for the terror law, that they are now salivating to use against the opposition and critics of the anti-people policies of the Duterte administration.," the bloc said in a statement.

The bloc added: "We are just defending human rights."

In a statement, House Minority Leader and Abang Lingkod Partylist Representative Stephen Paduano reminded Parlade that under the Anti-Terrorism Law, being a communist does not constitute a crime unless one has committed a terroristic activity.

He added that the government cannot conduct surveillance of any individual without authorization from a court. (READ: What you need to know about state surveillance)

"He better file a case in court or shut up if he has no evidence to show," Paduano said. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

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