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Elago files complaint vs 6 NTF-ELCAC officials over red-tagging

Leftist lawmaker Sarah Elago wants 6 government officials who are part of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) to be held accountable for red-tagging her and her party-list group, Kabataan.

On Monday, December 7, the outspoken congresswoman filed with the Office of the Ombudsman an administrative complaint against the following ex-officio members of the NTF-ELCAC:

  • Southern Luzon Command chief Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr
  • Presidential Communications Operations Office Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy
  • National Intelligence Coordinating Agency Director General Alex Monteagudo
  • Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana
  • Interior Secretary Eduardo Año
  • National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr

Elago was accompanied by her lawyer Tony La Viña at the Ombudsman. 

In her complaint, Elago said the NTF-ELCAC officials committed grave misconduct when they repeatedly claimed she was a communist rebel and accused the Kabataan of acting as a “front organization” for the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

The young lawmaker said the officials’ red-tagging practices is in violation of Republic Act No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. 

“Red-tagging upon my person and my party are rife with falsehoods, and are malicious and misleading. They are done in bad faith and in direct affront to professionalism and political neutrality,” said Elago. 

She argued the 6 government officials were acting in their official capacity and are guilty of malfeasance when they made the allegations against her.

“To intentionally commit grave misconduct and malfeasance in the form of vilifying individuals and groups, red-tagging them both online and offline public, is not just unjust and unprofessional, not only a complete waste of the funds of the taxpayers whom they should be serving, but is – more importantly – undemocratic, as it forces into silence those who have legitimate grievances, and whose opinions may differ from theirs,” said Elago. 

Red-tagging of activists has intensified under President Rodrigo Duterte, who recently accused members of the progressive Makabayan bloc like Elago of being communist rebels plotting to oust him – a charge they have long denied.

The President’s red-tagging came just days after the daughter of one of the Makabayan bloc members, Bayan Muna Representative Eufemia Cullamat, was killed in an encounter between the New People’s Army (NPA) and the military in Marihatag town, Surigao del Sur. The NPA is the CPP’s armed wing. 

Elago in particular has become a primary target for red-tagging. A complaint was even filed against her and former Bayan Muna congressman Neri Colmenares over the case of a student who left home because of family problems.

But the Department of Justice later junked the complaints, as prosecutors found no link between activists and communist rebels in that case. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the Senate and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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