Language, culture, and educational departments or organizations issued a unity statement on Friday, Aug. 12, condemning the red-tagging of authors and some Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino/Commission on the Filipino Language (KWF) commissioners’ purported order to pull out or stop the publication of at least 17 books erroneously labeled as “subversive” or “anti-government.”
More than 30 organizations defended authors Reuel Aguila, Rommel Rodriguez, Don Pagusara, Malou Jacob, and Dexter Cayanes, and more than a dozen more books published by KWF as “subversive” allegedly because they cited references written by the CPP-NPA.
Prominent art critic Alice Guillermo and National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera, who died last year, were also “redtagged” by former National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) spokesperson Lorraine Badoy and others in a YouTube video posted Aug. 9.
The groups noted that from red-tagging, asserting that “many books – be it in Filipino or English – will certainly cite or quote materials from various references” — including those from groups considered by the “government as subversive or revolutionary.”
“Such citation should not be treated as agreement or sympathy with the cited material, but rather a part of the typical academic and scholarly process of analyzing various sources,” the Unity statement read.
“Granted for the sake of argument that a book agrees or sympathizes with a political ideology, such socially committed writing tradition is respected in the whole world and considered as an important element of any country that calls itself as democratic,” it added.
The signatories also emphasized that “reading, analyzing, scrutinizing, citing, and using any reading material, regardless of the writer and the publisher, is part of the academic freedom of writers, teachers, researchers, and all citizens.”
De La Salle University professor and Tanggol Wika convener David San Juan also asserted that labeling books as “subversive” is tantamount to censorship and an attack on academic freedom, both of which have no place “in a civilized and democratic society.
ACT for Peace Convener and Ateneo de Manila History Professor Mike Pante also noted that “this is not the first time that government bureaucrats red-tagged books and authors.”
In 2021, under threat from the government’s NTF-ELCAC, some libraries removed books deemed “subversive” from library shelves.