Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate has asked the Senate to look into the possibility of criminalizing the red-tagging activities and operations of government officials and state forces against the country’s activists.
“Kung seryoso ang Senado sa kanyang resolusyon at pag-imbestiga rito, ito ay panawagan na rin ng marami na kailangan pag-araalan na this will be criminalized, ‘yung ginagawa ng opisyal, mga empleyado at ahente ng estado using government funds para ired-tag at ite-terrorist-tag ang critic ng administration even ordinary individuals,” he said during a press conference of various progressive groups, which demanded the Duterte government to put to a halt to the red-tagging of Makabayan lawmakers, and the activists.
(If the Senate is serious in its resolution and investigation, this is a call from the majority that there is a need to study that this will be criminalized, the [red-tagging] activities of the officials, employees, and agents of the State using government funds to red tag and terrorist tag the critics of the administration, even ordinary individuals)
“This red tagging, this terrorist tagging is very deadly accusations. These are not mere words, meron itong mga implications (this has implications). You can consider as a hate crime or offense,” Zarate laments.
In a statement, he clarified that he did not refer to the Senate and Senate Committee on National Defense, chaired by Senator Panfilo Lacson as engaged in witchhunting.
“I was clearly referring to the NTF-ELCAC and the security sector,” he said.
“In fact, we acknowledge Sen. Lacson and the committee’s efforts to give us an opportunity to highlight the plight of the victims, to state our position and vehement objections on the red-tagging and terrorist-tagging issue.”
However, he maintained that the Senate hearings were being used by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) “as a platform to further vilify us with sweeping and baseless accusations, false statements and malicious innuendos.”
Zarate also said he will not in any way entertain the insults hurled against him by President Duterte, likening him to dog poop. He instead called on President Duterte to explain why his government is tapping and considering Jeffrey Celiz, who was allegedly involved in drug operations, as its “asset.”
“It appears they are coddlers of this drug personality at ginagawang asset ito (they made him an asset), para siraan at ivillify (to destroy and villify) not only myself, but the members of Makabayan coalition and all progressive groups,” he said.
Bayan Muna Chairman Neri Colmenares said aside from sowing fear against the critics of the administration, the red-tagging operations of the government officials and security forces are also aimed at “crippling the opposition” in 2022.
“Wala na silang purpose dito except that (They do not have purpose, except that). Para sa amin, napaka-dangerous ang red-tagging. (For us, red tagging is very dangerous. It is not only a threat to our constitutional right, it is also a threat to our very lives,” he said.
He noted that the Makabayan coalition has machinery to campaign against the candidates of the administration for the 2022 polls.