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Elago urges House to condemn NTF-ELCAC, Parlade for red-tagging schools

Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago wants the House of Representatives to formally condemn the government task force against communists and its spokesperson Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr for red-tagging 38 schools.

The young congresswoman filed a resolution on Monday, February 8, calling the House to express its sense that the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and its spokesperson Parlade “must be condemned and held accountable” for the red-tagging of 38 colleges and universities. 

Elago argued that by claiming the schools are supposed “recruitment havens” for communist rebels, NTF-ELCAC and Parlade are putting students’ lives at risk.

She cited the controversial anti-terrorism law, under which mere suspicion of being linked to a terrorist group could lead to detention. Under the same law, the Anti-Terrorism Council has already designated the Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples' Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) as a terror group. 

“Thus, linking these educational institutions as recruitment centers of the CPP-NPA-NDF thoughtlessly endangers the students and all stakeholders’ lives and security with the threat of warrantless arrests and violations of human rights,” said Elago. 

Parlade had initially red-tagged 18 colleges and universities, but the NTF-ELCAC later expanded the list to 38. Four of the Philippines’ top universities included in the list already denied the claims of Parlade and the NTF-ELCAC.

The latest red-tagging efforts against the academic institutions came just days after the Department of National Defense unilaterally ended an accord that limited the entry of the police and the military into the campuses of the University of the Philippines nationwide.

In her resolution, Elago said schools must should be zones of peace that are “free from police and military presence, intervention, harassment, and intimidation.”

“It is imperative that the members of the House of Representatives, as representatives of the Filipino people, uphold and protect academic freedom of educational institutions,” said the Kabataan congresswoman.

Elago herself is has long been targeted by NTF-ELCAC. In December 2020, she filed an administrative complaint against Parlade and 5 other NTF-ELCAC ex-officio members for red-tagging her and her party-list group Kabataan. – 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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