Lacson optimistic committee could give objective report on ‘red tagging’ issue

Published December 1, 2020, 8:24 PM

by Mario Casayuran

The Senate national defense and security committee chaired by Senator Panfilo M. Lacson expressed optimism that it could give an objective report on the controversial “red-tagging’’ issue.

Senator Panfilo M. Lacson (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Lacson issued the statement on Tuesday, December 1, after conducting its third and last public hearing on the issue that saw agencies of the Executive branch trade bards with representatives of militant organizations who denied they are front organizations of the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF). The hearing lasted for seven hours.

In the hearing, former Party- list representatives Neri Colmenares and Teodoro Casino denied that their Bayan Muna organization is a front organization of the CPP.

On the other hand, General Hermogenes Esperon Jr., National Security Council (NSC) head, said government would soon be filing cases to show the “true face of the NPA.’’

 According to Esperon, the NPA kills people, exacts (revolutionary) taxes and bears arms. He pointed out that the trick of the CPP is to create underground organizations so that it could pursue its objectives.

“They are not at all an incognito organization. They left a broad trail of blood,’’ he added.

During the hearings, the AFP presented CPP/NPA rebel returnees who testified before the senators, stating their experiences and shattered dreams as revolutionaries. They submitted pieces of evidence gathered during their membership of the multi-tiered communist structure.

Esperon described as a “cop out” the refusal of Colmenares and Casino to denounce the atrocities of the NPA and its recruitment of young Filipinos from militant organizations because this is their personal decision to join the CPP’s armed component.

He said any resumption of the stalled peace talks with the CPP/NPA/NDF leadership is not a  priority but the defeat of its armed group is.

Colmenares said he could not denounce atrocities during an armed struggle because that is a legitimate option of the people around the world.

Meanwhile, opposition Senator Francis ‘’Kiko’’ Pangilinan berated an AFP officer for tagging as “kalokohan” the peace talks between the Duterte administration and the CPP/NPA/NDF.

He said he joins Law Dean Antonio Lavina in batting for the resumption of the stalled peace process because there are peace dividends during peace talks.

However, NPA attacks on government forces during the peace talks had irked President Duterte.

Noel Legaspi, a rebel returnee, said the “committee central” had given a directive approving attacks against capitalists during the peace talks because they are at war. 

Destroyed during those attacks were equipment of contractors such as buses, dump trucks, backhoe, among others, he added.

Legaspi said that Jose Maria Sison, CPP founder in exile, still chairs that committee.

Meanwhile, Casino said there is no factual basis to allegations that the communist party wanted party sharing with President Duterte as part of the issues discussed during the peace talks.