Accuses them of conspiring to infiltrate Congress as legal fronts of CPP-NPA
President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday night claimed communist rebels had infiltrated Congress through five party-list groups acting as their “legal fronts,” a charge that was immediately denounced as false by the groups he identified.
“I tell you that Lorraine Badoy is right,” the President said of the spokesperson of his National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), which has been widely criticized for red-tagging critics of the administration.
Badoy had earlier claimed that several members of the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives were cooperating with the communist rebels to “end” the government.
Duterte identified these groups as the Kabataan, Anakpawis, Bayan Muna, Alliance of Concerned Teachers, and Gabriela party-lists.
“You can see in their behavior and the way they espouse their advocacy—really leftists,” he said, saying the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has been able to get support from these groups.
“You can see the way they talk, behave. Until the end of my day, I would continue to criticize and say something about these party-lists.”
He accused the groups of using government funds to support communist rebels.
Apart from these activist groups, Duterte also slammed the rich who have been using the party-list system as a backdoor to further establish themselves in Congress.
Duterte said the communist rebels were earning “billions” of pesos by extorting construction companies and contractors.
“You know, it’s a conspiracy, you have a legal front, party-list. But it is a conspiracy—the act of one, the act of all,” he added.
In an online briefing, acting presidential spokesman Martin Andanar defended the President’s statements, saying they were based on unspecified intelligence reports.
“We all know that the President has access to all information, including sensitive information from the intelligence community. We believe he has a basis for these charges,” Andanar said in Filipino.
On Monday, Badoy said the party-lists would “destroy our beloved Philippines” if they are elected again to Congress.
She urged voters not to vote for these groups.
Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, in an interview with the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) on Wednesday, said Duterte’s remarks were “clearly a partisan, political ploy” that aims to “destroy this early the opposition.”
Assistant Minority Leader and ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro said the President’s “red tagging spree” is an ” attempt at pointing blame at progressive lawmakers with baseless red-tagging accusations instead of solving urgent problems of the people.”
“The recent red-tagging tirade of President Duterte is simply a desperate attempt of his administration and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict to steer the attention away from the urgent problems of the people of unending oil price hikes, low salaries and high inflation rates,” Castro said.
She said the party-lists were only voicing the demands of the people for a salary increase.
“Putting blame on progressive party-lists who are only voicing the demands of the people for salary increase, adequate social services and aid and respect for human rights of every Filipino,” she added.
Instead of red-tagging his critics, Castro said “the Duterte administration should focus its energy and the government’s resources in addressing urgent issues of the people.”
“Its red-tagging threats and harassment will not help alleviate the suffering of the people due to rising prices of basic goods,” Castro said.
Zarate said that Duterte’s recent attack on the Makabayan bloc is “a desperate election squid tactic to create a wedge in the growing numbers of the political opposition that support the Leni-Kiko tandem, as well as to prevent the eventual reelection of progressive party-lists of Congress.”
“Once again, President Duterte is foisting the communist and terrorist tag on the public to justify intensified attacks on his critics. We have already seen the dangers of this kind of attack as it erases any distinction between what is legal and illegal, the unarmed activists and armed rebels—all in utter disregard for due process and fundamental freedoms,” Zarate said.
Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas said President Duterte’s recent red-tagging statements “constitute his desperate last-ditch attempts to silence progressive groups in the run-up to 2022 polls.”
“We see nothing but desperation in Duterte’s recycled red-tagging claims against Gabriela Party-list and the entire Makabayan bloc, especially as it was issued a few weeks before the May 9 polls,” Brosas said.
The Gabriela Partylist lawmaker said fighting for lower prices of oil and basic commodities and for higher wages are basic genuine demands of the poor reeling from the recent price shocks.
The CPP-New People’s Army (NPA) is listed as a terrorist group by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
The Anti-Terrorism Council also formally designated CPP-NPA’s political wing, National Democratic Front, as a terrorist organization on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA that was created in April 1973.