Shhhh…. Listen for a minute in silence. Do you hear that? That’s right. That’s the sound of Filipino “activists” still complaining about being “red tagged”. In fact, it’s the only argument they throw against efforts being mounted by the Philippine Government to eradicate the communist cancer from our society. But think about it for a minute and ask:
What exactly does it mean to be “red tagged”?
For one thing, communists identify themselves using the colour red. So what’s the problem with being “red tagged”, right? Second, very few Filipinos will dispute allegations that “progressive” groups like Anakbayan, Gabriela, the Kilusang Mayo Uno, the League of Filipino Students, Bayan Muna, and the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) whose members enjoy absolute editorial control over university “journalism”, among others, are all barely-legal fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). As such, all of them are, by association, sympathetic to the goals of the terrorist arm of the CPP, the New People’s Army (NPA).
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Thirdly, there is something intellectually-dishonest about summarily labelling an effort to investigate and crackdown on illegal activities as “red tagging”. Filipino communists are using this label as a curtain to obscure objective examination of details pertinent to really understanding the problem of the Philippines’ communist infestation at the right level. There is a hypothesis being tested here — that personalities accused of “being CPP card-bearing members” that “have been involved in some way in the armed rebellion” are engaged in activities that pose a danger to Filipino citizens. This is the simple position of the Philippine Government on the matter as articulated by National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Insurgency (NTF-ELCAC) spokesperson, Southern Luzon Command chief Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade reported by the Inquirer back in late January. Clearly, the government continues to gather evidence and connect the dots — part and parcel of business-as-usual intelligence work.
For Parlade, NPA members who surrendered to the government could prove it. He said ex-rebels pinpointed several members of above-ground groups as CPP-NPA members, including Colmenares.
“It’s not for me to decide on the cases but I have been involved in the discussions, that’s why I know that the evidence we have can implicate them. The testimonies of former rebels from Negros, from which he (Colmenares) is from also have a huge bearing. So how will evade that, those are former rebels who were with him in scouting and planning?” he pointed out.
Parlade admits that pursuit of the banking angle is still in its early stages but progressing nontheless.
“Bank accounts, it’s hard to establish bank accounts but that’s on the process, well AMLC is in charge here, but there are movements of money. You know the deposits, they just amount to around $100 to $200, that’s coming from abroad, then they will close the account, and then open it again,” Parlade claimed.
“That’s what happened to the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines and the Belgian NGOs. Who are the beneficiaries of these accounts? It’s Gabriela. Now, who [is] accepting these funds? Well, not all go to the Communist Party of the Philippines, NPA, but a good 60 percent goes to the CPP-NPA. And these are all corroborated by these former rebels, especially those involved in the financial transactions of the CPP,” he added.
The astounding thing to be noted about this exercise is in how, outside of these government efforts, nobody in the Opposition seems the least bit curious about investigating whether there actually is a fire that accounts for all this smoke. And this is the point that needs to be highlighted here — that it is the job of the military to act on intelligence in much the same way that the police are duty-bound to investigate every instance where a crime may have occurred.
Bayan Muna chair and former Rep. Neri Colmenares, would rather be defensive than be supportive of fact finding. His approach is to introduce a political red herring to the argument — one that paints his lot as “victims” of a conspiracy to deny them their right to participate in the national debate.
Colmenares thinks that silencing critics and making them think twice about voicing concerns and opinions – and eventually kicking the carping Makabayan bloc out of office – is a way to weaken the opposition before the 2022 national elections.
“One of the reasons why they’ve been planning to Red-tag is because dissent and criticisms are mounting, so they need a more active tagging […] to stifle (dissent). That’s the real intention of Red-tagging, it has been going on since the time of former President Ferdinand Marcos, to silence critics as you would stay quiet after being Red-tagged,” Colmenares said in Filipino.
“The second purpose of Red-tagging based on our analysis, the reason why it seems to be on the rise recently because the elections are near. And I think, our analysis here, they are concerned that their candidates are not faring well in the survey, if there are surveys going out, it does not represent their actual candidates,” he added.
Colmenares even suggests that “red tagging” is to blame for the catastrophic loss the Opposition camp suffered in the 2019 mid-term elections where every one of the eight bets in their “Otso Diretso” coalition failed to bag a Senate seat.
According to Colmenares, he and members of Otso Diretso – the opposition senatorial slate of the Liberal Party and its allied groups in the 2019 elections – were subjected to Red-tagging even before the campaign. But allegations died down eventually, which Colmenares took as indicative of electoral propaganda.
He thinks the accusations had an effect on the fate of the opposition, as none of the opposition bets – Otso Diretso or not – made it to the Senate.
Note that nothing in what Colmenares contributes to the conversation addresses any of the facts or investigative angles that Parlade shares and invites all to examine. Colmenares’s arguments are all appeals to victimhood designed to muddy rather than clarify the facts and arguments pertinent to the case.
One thing is clear, however. The buzzword “red tagging” is just another one of the old Cold War era ululations that communists use to keep all conversation about the Philippines’ communist problem muddied and assure themselves the breathing space they need to continue their illicit activities in the country’s university campuses and in the countryside. It has since been revealed to be obsolete and an ineffective propaganda tool. Filipinos are getting better at seeing through the dishonesty of the CPP-NPA and the circle of “activists” they surround themselves with in their futile efforts to come across as legitimate partners of the Filipino people in real nation building.
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