By ALMA B. SINUMLAG
BAGUIO CITY — Anakbayan-Cordillera slammed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on their continuing red baiting against progressive youth organizations in the region.
“Tuluy-tuloy pa rin ang atake nila laban sa mga progresibong organisasyon sa kabila ng maraming reklamo,” (They are continuing their attack against progressive organizations despite a lot of complaints) Niño Joseph Oconer, Anakbayan-Saint Louis University (SLU) spokesperson, said in an interview.
Oconer himself is a victim of red baiting since 2010 during the National Service Training Program (NSTP) symposium in SLU. He was tagged by a certain Agnes Lopez Reano as a member of the New Peoples Army (NPA) who is enrolled mainly to recruit youths to carry arms. This he said is a violation of his right to security.
Until now, Oconer said, his name and his organization are used as examples of NPA during academic symposiums and even in the Sangguninang Kabataan (SK) leadership summits.
Recently, reports from Anakbayan members of Benguet State University (BSU) said that during their NSTP symposium, Reano who introduced herself as a former NPA warned the freshmen students not to join progressive organizations including Anakbayan because the groups will just poison their minds and will eventually persuade them to join the armed struggle.
According to the report, she was telling the students that the leaders of the said organization are members of NPA.
Oconer said this threatens the security of their members and the organizers. “Moreover, this is a violation on our rights to organize,” he added.
If the AFP believes that they are really members of the NPA, he challenged them to sue them in court.
Continuious red baiting on Oconer
Oconer shared that until now, members of the AFP are still tagging him as a member of NPA. On April this year, one of their members in SLU attended an SK leadership summit organized by the AFP and they warned them to get rid of Oconer because he is a recruiter of NPA.
Moreover, a leadership seminar was held at Camp Allen and his name was included in the list showed to the youth. The said list according to the Anakbayan member who attended was a list of NPA in Baguio and Benguet.
As a result, one SK posted a comment in one of his group pictures in Facebook. The comment posted he said was: “…si Oconer ba iyong isa? Iyong recruiter ng NPA?” (Is that Oconer? The NPA recruiter?).
“It means, they are not only stating my name but also showing my picture,” he said adding that he does not know the person who posted the comment.
Moreover, he was also called by a student of BSU asking for an interview. The subject of the student interview was student activism. She told Oconer that somebody referred him and even gave his (Oconer) number. Similar to what was posted in Facebook, the person who recommended him to the interviewer told that Oconer is an NPA recruiter.
Role of the school administration
Oconer hit the school administrations for allowing such programs of the AFP to be integrated in the curriculum. Allowing the AFP to demonize progressive student organizations and leaders means “even in school campus, students are not safe,” he said.
Moreover, he believes that some of his personal information was taken from his school records. “Ang eskuwelahan kasi ang isa sa mga pinaglalagakan natin ng mga personal information,” (School is one of those that we put our personal information) he added. These records, he said, are made accessible to the AFP.
He even fears that his NBI record is already tainted. “Paano kung kukuha ako ng NBI clearance at may record na akong rebellion dahil dito?,” he said.
On the other hand, Anakbayan-Cordillera and other youth organizations that are subjected to red baiting are documenting these cases of surveillance and other harassment against their organizers and members.
Oconer said, they may seek legal remedies to these violations of human rights.# nordis.net