Duterte urged to certify anti-red tagging bill as urgent

Robie de Guzman   •   April 28, 2021   •   396

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to certify as urgent a bill seeking to criminalize red-tagging.

“With the opinion of the Secretary of Justice, we urge President Duterte to certify as urgent the passage of Senate Bill 2121 which we filed to punish red-tagging by state agents,” Drilon said in a statement.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra earlier said that the lawmakers’ push for the passage of a law criminalizing red-tagging “may help reduce the problem of reckless endangerment” of state forces.

He also said that it would be best that Congress enact a law clearly defining and expressly penalizing “red-tagging.”

“The opinion of the Secretary of Justice that there is a gap in the law as red-tagging is presently not a criminal offense under our laws makes the passage of SB [Senate Bill] 2121 which we filed imperative,” Drilon said.

“We laud the stand of Secretary Guevarra for pushing for the enactment of a red-tagging law,” he added.

Drilon said the measure seeks to fix the legal gaps, address impunity and institutionalize a system of accountability by criminalizing red-tagging and providing for penalties as deterrence thereto.

The senator, in particular, expressed serious concerns about the consequences of red-tagging, saying that this could endanger the life and safety of those on the receiving end if not addressed.

“Red-tagging threatens the life, liberty, and security of a person. As I said before, being red-tagged sometimes serves as a death warrant,” he said.

The bill, which was filed in March, seeks to define the crime of red-tagging as the act of labeling, vilifying, branding, naming, accusing, harassing, persecuting, stereotyping, or caricaturing individuals, groups, or organizations as state enemies, left-leaning, subversives, communists, or terrorists as part of a counter-insurgency or anti-terrorism strategy or program, by any state actor, such as law enforcement agent, paramilitary, or military personnel.

Any person found guilty of red-tagging shall be imprisoned for 10 years and shall suffer the accessory penalty of perpetual absolute disqualification to hold public office, according to the bill.

Health workers group tagged as communist front asks help from Duterte

Marje Pelayo   •   May 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) was linked to the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in an article written by Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy on April 7.

Badoy, who is also the Spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Conflict, claimed that the AHW is being used by the communist group to be able to penetrate health facilities in the country including the Philippine General Hospital.

According to the group’s president Robert Mendoza, even he himself is being linked by Badoy to the communist rebels.

Mendoza said they are appealing to President Rodrigo Duterte to back them up to clear their names because they fear for their safety being red-tagged and their morale is hugely affected.

“Kasi kami na nga lang natitira ngayon na humaharap sa pandemyang ito at bakit ireredtag ang mga health workers, in fact, mga government employees kami lahat,” Mendoza said.

The same goes for Filipino Nurses United who is being linked to the NPA by a certain social media post.

The group said instead of insisting on baseless accusations, what the government should address is the distribution of performance-based bonuses of health workers from 2018 to 2020 which they haven’t received until now.

The group also calls on the government to expedite and complete the processing of various benefits such as the special risk allowance and hazard pay under Bayanihan 2.

“Sana yung active hazard duty pay ay gawing 5,000 pesos at yung special risk allowance ay gawing 15,000 pesos para sa lahat ng health workers kada month and hindi lang doon sa covid ward at nasa direct patient,” insisted FNU Secretary General Jocelyn Andamo.

The Health Department, for its part, assures that aside from the protection of health workers, it is doing its best to provide the best compensation for health workers.

“Nabayaran natin at naibigay natin sa mga facilities iyong mga dapat ibayad sa health workers hanggang sa dulo of 2020. Isa iyan sa kanilang mga complaints dahil may mga health workers na hanggang sa ngayon hindi pa nakukumpleto iyong kanilang mga benepisyo noong last year pa noong December 2020,” noted Health Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire. -MNP (with reports from Dante Amento)

Palace supports gag order on Parlade, Badoy vs community pantry issue

Robie de Guzman   •   April 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Monday expressed support to the decision of National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperson to issue a gag order on two spokespersons of the National Task Force on Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) over their comments on the community pantry issue.

“Opo we support that (gag order) and ang ating pakiusap po ay alam naman po natin ang polisiya natin, wine-welcome natin ang bayanihan ng community pantries at hinihingi natin sa lahat ng opisyales na maging mas maingat at maging mas malalim sa kanilang mga sinasabi,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace briefing.

“Kailangang mas malawak ang kanilang pananaw,” he added.

Roque was referring to Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr. and Undersecretary Lorrain Badoy.

Esperon, vice-chair of NTF-ELCAC, said Sunday that he has ordered Parlade and Badoy to refrain from making comments on the issue of community pantries.

Parlade and Badoy earlier drew criticisms over their statements linking Maginhawa community pantry organizers to communist rebels.

Roque also reiterated that there was no need to defund the NTF-ELCAC over the issue since it uses its funds to help develop local communities.

He also reminded organizers of community pantries to coordinate with local government units to ensure that health protocols are observed against COVID-19 transmissions. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Maginhawa community pantry resumes operations

Robie de Guzman   •   April 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The community pantry in Maginhawa, Quezon City has reopened on Wednesday after halting operations for a day over ‘red-tagging’ claims.

The Quezon City Task Force Disiplina and the Department of Public Order and Safety (DPOS) deployed some of its members in the area to ensure that minimum health protocols against COVID-19 are strictly observed.

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte earlier assured local government protection for the organizers and beneficiaries of community pantries.

She also stressed that the city’s Task Force Disiplina and barangay officials are only in the area to provide assistance in maintaining peace and order and in controlling any crowds that may form.

In the past few days, local authorities have observed up to 2,000 people lining up daily at the Maginhawa community pantry. They are also monitoring other community pantries that have sprouted in other parts of the city.

QC Task Force Disiplina Rannie Ludovica said they have divided their personnel to ensure the safety of organizers and beneficiaries of the community pantries.

The Maginhawa community pantry in Quezon City distributes dry goods in the morning and fresh produce from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Donations from private groups and individuals also continue to pour in various community pantries to help in the initiative. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)

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