Karapatan: Senate hearing on red-tagging, a roadshow for NTF-ELCAC’s lies and terror law’s dangers

Human rights alliance Karapatan expressed its condemnation and disappointment at the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security led by Senator Panfilo Lacson Sr., the principal author of the Anti-Terrorism Act in the Senate, whose hearing is turning out to be the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict’s (NTF-ELCAC) “roadshow for its deranged red-tagging spree and a dry-run of a meeting of the Anti-Terrorism Council’s arbitrary terror-tagging of individuals and people’s organizations — setting them all up for graver violations such as further threats and harassment, arrests, detention, and even killings.”

“At a time when the nation is reeling from the destruction brought by typhoons and the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Senate hearing — as how it is currently being used as a platform to justify red-tagging and red-baiting or the policy and practice of baseless vilification of individuals and groups expressing critiques or dissent — is not only ill-timed: it is a clear foreboding of the things to come when the Anti-Terrorism Act is fully implemented,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay stated.

Palabay continued that “except for the insightful and independent interventions of Senators Risa Hontiveros, Francis Pangilinan, and Grace Poe, as well as the statement of Makabayan legal counsel Maneeka Sarza, the rest of the hearing reeks of malicious accusations and unfounded statements already debunked by court rulings, including the recent decisions of the Supreme Court and Department of Justice on the baseless cases driven by the NTF-ELCAC.”

“The government’s practice, trend, and policy of red-baiting or red-tagging has been confirmed in so many statements and policy pronouncements of government officials, including military and police generals, as well as President Rodrigo Duterte’s allies and Cabinet appointees, as noted by the Commission on Human Rights and United Nations independent experts, with their subsequent recommendations to halt these acts. This hearing has become a big echo chamber of sorts for these bloodthirsty militarists and their rabid lies,” Palabay added.

The Karapatan officer said that “the NTF-ELCAC, its officials and agencies, is the main purveyor of this dangerous policy and practice through its brutal counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapanatagan, which blurs the distinction between combatants and civilians. The war criminals and human rights violators that head the NTF-ELCAC are the same actors who will implement the Anti-Terrorism Act through the Anti-Terrorism Council.”

“Red-tagging and red-baiting are acts that incite war crimes, State violence, and other forms of human rights violations against civilians, particularly those who express dissent on the government’s anti-people, fascist, and murderous policies. This deadly rhetoric, which is clearly the overarching policy of the NTF-ELCAC no matter how they try to deny it before the public, is based on lies — and a task force like the NTF-ELCAC which is based on deception and puts lives in danger should be defunded and abolished,” Palabay ended.