Incorrigible red-tagger, war criminal Parlade is one big reason why the NTF-ELCAC needs to be defunded, abolished – Karapatan

Human rights group Karapatan today said that the acts of Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. as an “incorrigible red-tagger” of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) “such as inciting violence and harm on artists, activists, and communities are big reasons why the task force’s PhP16.44 billion budget is a waste of public funds.”

“NTF-ELCAC and its red-tagging policy as apparent in Parlade’s actions merit condemnation, not legitimization through government financing. Why should we allow the use of people’s money to inflict more harm, rather than having it realigned for direly needed health services during this pandemic? The task force should in fact be abolished and its officials like Parlade and the President himself Rodrigo Duterte be made accountable. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has already called out the Philippine government’s red-tagging as a ‘persistent and powerful threat to civil society and freedom of expression’ and could possibly amount to a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,’” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay stated. 

These acts of Parlade and the NTF-ELCAC led by Duterte, Palabay continued, are tantamount to a war crime under international humanitarian law and human rights instruments. 

“Deliberately making no distinction between combatants and non-combatants and inciting or threatening violence against civilians, including artists, activists, and communities is a war crime. Even in situations of armed conflict, there are longstanding rules under international humanitarian law and under human rights instruments. Parlade, President Duterte and NTF-ELCAC, your relentless, rabid and dangerous red-tagging spree is a bane to our so-called democracy,” she added. 

The Karapatan officer further averred “this atrocious policy and practice of red-tagging has resulted to violations on the rights to life, liberty and security of human rights defenders, including our colleague Zara Alvarez who experienced numerous threats via red-tagging before she was killed.” 

Palabay asserted that any form of intimidation or threat against groups inviting or working with any artist, like Liza Soberano, Catriona Gray, and Angel Locsin, to espouse social justice issues, such as women’s and girl’s rights, is a direct violation of people’s rights to freedom of association. 

“This continuing and baseless defamation of women’s groups and their association with personalities who uphold and defend human rights is part of the Duterte government’s schemes to lay the ground for terrorist-tagging of individuals and groups speaking out on the current situation and full-on crackdown on dissent, with the implementation of the Anti-Terror Law. We call on the public to defend our rights amid the onslaught of fascist acts of the Duterte government,” she concluded.