Leftist lawmakers on red-tagging: 'Someone should be held accountable'

Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate and Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago on Tuesday, November 24, reiterated their call that those engaged in red-tagging should be held accountable, as their attempts to seek help from the government itself have not prospered.

"Instead of understanding us and respecting our role as citizens and members of Congress, we have become subjects of trumped-up charges and intense red-tagging and terror-tagging," Zarate said at the Senate hearing on red-tagging on Tuesday.

Elago echoed Zarate, citing her own case as one of the most targeted Leftist figures in police and military red-tagging.

"We have repeatedly reminded the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), PNP (Philippine National Police), to the NTF-ELCAC (National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict) that the right to speech is guaranteed.... Mr Chair, Senate President, sa lahat ng naririto, kailangang may managot (to everyone here, someone should be held accountable)," the lawmker said.

In April 2019, the Makabayan bloc filed against military officials over red-tagging. In July, Elago and other youth group leaders filed complaint with the National Bureau of Investigation against netizens who posted comments red-tagging them. Some of the posts were shared on the social media accounts of the police and the military.

They made the call as they responded to the government's security sector description of them as members of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People's Army (CPP-NPA). They have also been described as "terrorists" by different Facebook pages of local police and military detachments. (READ: Lives in danger as red-tagging campaign intensifies)

Elago in an earlier hearing at the House of Representatives called on Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana for action on the red-tagging and terror-tagging practices of the military, but he only told her to file a case against them.

Think tank Ibon Foundation, another target of government red-tagging, told Rappler in October that they tried to reach out to clarify allegations brought forward by NTF-ELCAC officials but their letters remain unanswered.

Leftists and activists who joined the Senate hearing also dared security officials to back their claims of red-tagging with "credible proof" that can stand in court, instead of just relying on witness statements. – with a report from Jodesz Gavilan/Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.