Makabayan solons condemn KWF, SMNI; ask to revoke memo purging ‘subversive’ books

Makabayan solons, on Tuesday, Aug. 16, filed a resolution, condemning several commissioners of the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) and officials of the Sonshine Media Network International News (SMNI) for red-tagging authors of some books that were alleged to be subversive, while ordering that these be pulled out from public schools and libraries.

(From left to right) Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel, ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro, and Gabriela Women’s Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas (Makabayan photo)

House Resolution No. 253 was filed by Reps. France Castro of ACT Teachers Party-list, Arlene Brosas of Gabriela Women’s Party, and Raoul Manuel of Kabataan Party-list.

The resolution named three hosts of SMNI, including former National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) spokesperson Lorraine Badoy and “an element of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)” for red-tagging “acclaimed and well-respected” authors in the Philippine academe, literature, and culture.

“Now, therefore, be it resolved that the House of Representatives condemns the red-tagging committed by several Commissioners of the Komisyon sa

Wikang Filipino and of the Sonshine Media Network International News of several authors and their works and the illegal book purging ordered by the KWF,” the resolution, a copy of which was sent to the media, read.

“Be it resolved that the KWF be urged to revoke Memorandum 2022-0663 and Resolution 17-8 for violation of academic freedom, freedom of expression, and other rights of the people, and also for violation of Republic Acts 7104 and 7722, along with other relevant laws,” it furthered.

The resolution was referring to Memorandum 2022-0663dated Aug. 9, 2022 and signed by two KWF commissioners —Carmelita Abdurahman and Benjamin Mendillo. There are 11 KWF commissioners in all, including Chairman Arthur Casanova.

READ: Over 30 organizations decry red-tagging of authors, pulling out of ‘subversive’ books

The five books covered by the memo were “Teatro Pulitikal Dos” by Malou Jacob, “Kalatas: Mga Kuwentong Bayan at Kuwentong Buhay” by Rommel Rodriguez, “Tawid-diwa sa Pananagisag ni Bienvenido Lumbera: Ang Bayan, ang Manunulat, at ang Magasing Sagisag sa Imahinatibong Yugto ng Batas Militar 1975-1979” by Dexter Cayanes, “May Hadlang ang Umaga” by Don Pagusara, and “Labas: Mga Palabas sa Labas ng Sentro” by Reuel Aguila.

Rodriguez’s, Pagusara’s, and Aguila’s books were published by the KWF.

The lawmakers stressed that banning such books was against the 1987 Constitution, particularly Sections 11 and 17 of Article 2.

It is also in violation of Republic Act 7104, or the charter of the KWF, and Republic Act 7722, or the Higher Education Act, the resolution cited.

“The book purge is reminiscent of the book-burning episodes in history, such as those conducted by the Nazi and other oppressive, tyrannical regimes, and of the censorship of the media and the academe ordered by the dictator Ferdinand Marcos prior to and during his martial law. All these caused irreparable damage not just to cultural history but also to the proper workings of democracy,” it added.

In a privilege speech on Monday, Aug. 15, Castro said the Makabayan lawmakers were standing with the people, who are behind these books.

“We will not sit idly by while our teachers, researchers, writers, and their works are red-tagged and vilified,” she said.

“Nakikiisa kami sa buong komunidad ng akademya at kultura sa pag-giit: Silang mga takot sa mga tula, dula, at prosa ay walang batayan sa katotohanan, batas, at makataong asal upang patahimikin ang mga awtor at manlilikha, walang dahilan upang piringan ang mga mata ng mga taong nais yakapin ang kanilang mga salita (We are one with the entire academic and cultural community in asserting: They who fear poems, plays, and prose have no grounds in fact, laws, and human decency to silence authors and creators, no reason to shutter the eyes of people who want to embrace their words),” she added.

Castro charged those afraid of these books were the same ones who feared people who stand up against injustice, greed, abuse, and oppression.