Karapatan: NTF-ELCAC’s increased red-tagging overdrive lays pretext for use of terror law vs activists, critics, dissenters

The rabid red-tagging overdrive of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and its officials of at least 38 universities and colleges in the country, following their daily barrage of false information and terrorist-tagging of University of the Philippines (UP) community, including its alumni, and the “abrogation” of the UP – Department of National Defense (DND) Accord, is not merely a recent frenzied exercise. It is among the methods to this madness called authoritarianism — and it is how the pretext for the implementation of Duterte’s terror law is being laid. 

Karapatan decries these archaic, baseless, and deplorable acts as direct violations on the people’s rights to freedom of thought and free expression, to academic freedom, to association, and the exercise of the defense of human rights. Such acts pose grave and serious risks to the lives, liberties, and security of individuals, groups, and communities — and it is a clear preview of what is to come if and when the terror law is fully implemented and used by the same actors in their recycled posts at the Anti-Terrorism Council.

We reiterate our support to various individuals, communities, and institutions, particularly the academic entities, affected by these acts in asserting the right to spaces and exercises for critical thinking and academic freedom. 

Karapatan likewise extends its support for Grace Albasin, the mother of arrested youth leader and activist Myles Albasin, in condemning the brazen lies of DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana — who included her daughter in a list of UP students who have supposedly joined communist rebels and subsequently died in encounters with the military — to justify his “abrogation” of the UP-DND Accord.

Myles is alive behind bars and is facing trumped-up charges after she was arrested by the military with five other youth activists in Mabinay, Negros Oriental following a supposed armed encounter with communist rebels despite the fact that they have all tested negative in a paraffin test.

It is hardly surprising for rabid warmongers in the NTF-ELCAC to continue peddling these lies, but they are nonetheless dangerous amid the government’s rabid red-tagging rampage that has incited violence against activists, human rights defenders, and their families, or even led to their illegal arrests, especially now with the terror law in place.

These lies are, at the very least, laughable — given the millions of so-called “intelligence” funds being thrown at them — if they are not so deadly, despicable, and terrifying. It is not far of a stretch to call these lies as deliberate, and their clear intent is to harass, threaten, silence, and even kill those they have named as well as anyone around them, including their families and colleagues.

The rabid red-tagging rampage orchestrated by the NTF-ELCAC must end — along with the killings, arrests, and lies that come with it. Karapatan stands with all the victims of red-tagging, which is clearly meant to create an atmosphere of fear and to justify the Duterte regime’s looming all-out crackdown on dissent. We will resist these lies, and we will not be silenced.

Photo by Grig Montegrande/Inquirer