Senate President Vicente Sotto III echoed on Wednesday suspicions that members of the entertainment industry could also be involved in the communist movement.
Sotto, a former movie actor and singer-composer, said he had also heard of rumors that some artists were engaged with groups linked to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), as alleged by Jeffrey Celiz, the military’s star witness during the Senate defense committee’s oversight hearing on the red-tagging activities of government officials on Tuesday, November 3.
“It was a suspected rumor in the past,” Sotto said in a text message when asked about the claim.
Celiz identified himself as a former member of the CPP and the national operational command of its armed wing, the New Peoples’ Army (NPA). During the hearing, he tagged several partylist groups as being part of the communist movement, as well as those in the show business.
“Hindi po totoong walang program ang CPP sa showbiz industry, entertainment, musicians and artists (It’s untrue that the CPP does not have a program for the showbiz industry, entertainment, musicians and artists),” Celiz told senators, saying there are “underground groups” within the industry.
He tagged the Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP) as the CPP’s “open organization” to supposedly recruit members.
“From that open organization, loose organization of showbiz personalities, entertainers, musicians, kompositor at mga artist ay nabubuo ang (composers and artists comprise the) underground organization,” Celiz said.
He later mentioned the CAP’s late founders Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal by erroneously mentioning their films.
“But they are not NPA right away but they are supporting the NPA indirectly or directly.”
The CAP, on the other hand, condemned Celiz allegations as “baseless, dangerous and shameful.”
“From then until today, we are an organization of writers, artists, and cultural workers committed to constitutionally protected principles of freedom, justice and democracy,” the group said in a statement published on Facebook Tuesday.
“We have always stood for freedom of expression and the people’s welfare Even if it means having to call out and criticize those in power. That is activism, not terrorism,” it added.
Before Celiz’ claims, Lt. General Antonio Parlade told the Senate panel that celebrities are being used to recruit more participants in the communist movement.
“Gamit na gamit ‘yong celebrities (Celebrities are often used) because this is one way of convincing the masses that they are winning. Actually sinasabi nila, ‘Kita niyo, may mga kasama na tayong artista, kaya sumali na kayo sa amin’ (They are saying, ‘See, we have already recruited actors, so join us’),” said Parlade. He denied in the same hearing that he red-tagged actresses Angel Locsin, Liza Soberano and Ms. Universe 2018 Cariona Gray, since even Soberano’s family, thru her lawyer, thanked Parlade for saying that the actress is not in any way connected with the NPA.
Meanwhile, Sotto said he hopes that youths and individuals will be discouraged from joining the communist movement following the testimonies by the former rebels during the Senate hearing.
“The lies are being exposed,” Sotto said.