Gov’t officials face raps for red-tagging Kabataan Party-list members

Published December 7, 2020, 6:46 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

Six government officials are facing administrative raps before the Office of the Ombudsman for red-tagging members of Kabataan Party-list and linking them to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), New People’s Army (NPA), and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

Sarah Jane Elago, Kabataan Partylist representative, filed the complaint against Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año, and National Security Advisor Hermogenes Esperon Jr., Presidential Communications Undersecretary Lorraine Marie Badoy, Director General of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) Alex Paul Monteagudo and Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr. of the AFP on Monday afternoon.

Kabataan Party-list is a duly registered party-list with the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). But despite its status, Elago said in the complaint that several of their members are continuously being red-tagged by the respondents through the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

Elago said that the Philippine National Police (PNP) – Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), assisted by Relissa Lucena, even filed criminal complaints against her for the supposed “radicalization” and recruitment of the latter’s daughter, Alicia Jasper, into a rebel armed group.

As the preliminary investigation progressed, the NTF-ELCAC publicly supported Lucena and consistently portrayed Elago as an alleged bad influence. “I drew much flak from these cases, with Mrs. Lucena and a group of mothers leading the offensive,” Elago said in the complaint. “At some point, they displayed before the media photos of me with devil horns, burning it with glee.”

On October 26, 2020, the DOJ dismissed the complaint for lack of probable cause. Sadly, Elago lamented, the red-tagging only continued with ferocity.

Parlade, on his Facebook account, would allude to Elago being a leader and supporter of the CPP-NPA-NDFP. He referred to Makabayan Bloc, which the Kabataan Party-list is supposedly a member of, as “Kamatayan bloc.”

Badoy and Monteagudo made the same claims on their personal Facebook pages, as well as the account of the NTF-ELCAC.

Lorenzana, for his part, defended their posts and claimed that these had “basis.” “These posts included claiming that I was an NPA recruiter. By claiming as with basis and not denouncing these posts made by AFP pages, respondent Lorenzana effectively condones red-tagging behavior against me,” the complaint read.

Año issued a statement that Kabataan Party-list “infect and contaminate our youth” with their “pretentious and false notion of nationalism.” The DILG Secretary also said they should stop spreading the virus of communist terrorism.

Meanwhile, Esperon confirmed during an interview that the government and its agents have been monitoring Elago and the other members of Makabayan Bloc because of their alleged association with the CPP-NPA.

Elago wants them charged with grave misconduct. “Red-tagging upon my person and my party are rife with falsehoods, and are malicious and misleading,” the complaint stated. “Respondents’ conduct and speech in red-tagging is malfeasance in office, and is unreasonable, unfair, oppressive, and discriminatory.”

The group also filed a complaint against the respondents before the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) due to the relentless red-tagging of students and youth leaders.

“Aside from the threats to life brought by red-tagging, these kinds of attacks also discourage the youth to pursue our advocacies towards a just and prosperous future,” Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP) National Spokesperson Kej Andres said in a statement.