Commentary: Red tagging & criminalization: An act of desperation
By PEDRO AGYAMAN
If helping the poor is a crime, and fighting for freedom is rebellion, then I plead guilty as charged.
— Crispin Beltran
Last February 2006, 300 fully armed elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines stormed the house of Dr. Melecia Velmonte in Morong, Rizal and arrested 43 community health workers who were conducting a seminar. And what was the justification of the military? That the 43 health workers were actually members of the New People’s Army, and were caught on the spot making bombs. And after sensing that the general public slammed that declaration, and after different community health organizations affirmed that they were indeed community health workers, they suddenly said that they were a “superbody” within the CPP, claiming that they were the “health bureau” of the CPP-NPA. In addition, the military said that there where actually bomb making materials, guns, a hand grenade, and a claymore mine found under the beds of the participants.
All the community health workers wanted was to serve the poor and the marginalized that the government has forgotten to look at. And in whatever angle you may look, this arrest doesn’t have any justification.
First, the arrest was actually illegal. The soldiers did not have a legitimate search warrant contrary to earlier claimed, for a legitimate search warrant must specifically point out the location of the arrest and what places are to be searched. Their search warrant did not particularly refer to the house of Dr. Velmonte. Second, the search warrant must be made in the presence of a witness, and in the presence of the owners of the place. However, the participants in the seminar were actually blindfolded and arrested first before the search was done. The supposed “evidence” therefore could be planted.
Second, the case must not be handled by the military, but instead must be brought to the civil courts, due to the fact that the persons involved were not combatants. Obviously, the 43 arrested were clearly not combatants. It is up to the civil court to hold the case.
Third, the Anti-Subversion Law has been revoked, wherein being a “communist” is already decriminalized.
Lastly, the military even violated the court order by not surfacing the Morong 43 as originally scheduled by the Supreme Court. The military even earlier denied access to the Commission on Human Rights and the International Committee of the Red Cross to inspect the condition of the 43 detainees.
Also, there has been a recent spate of black propaganda allegedly being done by the government, with streamers and graffiti linking progressive partylists, as well as the Makabayan Coalition’s senatorial bets Liza Masa and Satur Ocampo, to the CPP-NPA-NDF.
As to the case of Liza Maza, Satur Ocampo, and the progressive partylists under the MAKABAYAN coalition, it is broad knowledge that these organizations are recognized by the Comelec as candidates. Liza Maza and Satur Ocampo have served the country as Representatives in the Lower House of Congress for nine long years.
In any case, these actions of the military are clearly in violation of the laws of the government whom they themselves are claiming to serve and protect.
Seeing a battalion of soldiers arresting health workers who are giving medical services to the poor and the marginalized which should be the government’s responsibility in the first place, and tagging legitimate and progressive organizations as communist fronts are clearly acts of desperation. And what has driven the military to resort to Red tagging? The overall failure of their counterinsurgency operations. The Arroyo administration has called for the end of the CPP-NPA insurgency by the end of her term in June 2010 — and this has clearly failed.
As for the progressive politicians who are forwarding the politics of change, they have continually enjoyed popular support. Despite state repression, the progressive political parties have grown and widened their influence. Despite repression, the progressive political parties are here to stay. # nordis.net