By MONICA CUTIN
SAN FERNANDO CITY — Youth groups Anakbayan and Kabataan Party-list on Wednesday, July 31, slammed an official of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) and members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) for red-tagging organizations and party-lists groups under the Makabayan bloc.
In an open letter posted on their Facebook page, Jennybeth Mariano, secretary-general of Anakbayan-Ilocos called the incident a “worn-out storyline” and “desperate attempt” to discredit their group.
She said that on July 26, their friends in the media have asked for their statement on a forum conducted by the PNP in San Juan National High School in San Juan, Ilocos Sur.
Citing a report from Tawid News Magazine, she said Police Officers Jonalyn Ricana at Precious Sarmiento urged the students not to join “leftist” groups who are acting as front organizations of the New People’s Army. Among those identified were the League of Filipino Students (LFS), BAYAN, Migrante, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Gabriela and the Association of Concerned Teachers (ACT).
On the same day, they also discovered posts shared by Freddie G. Lazaro, the assistant regional director of PIA Region 1, making the same allegations. He shared two posts from the Facebook accounts “Pulis Tayasan” and “Bayang Pilipinas”. The posts are no longer available on his wall as of 10:00 pm, July 30.
“Malisyoso ang mga post ni Ginoong Lazaro- walang habas nitong iniugnay ang mga ligal na organisasyon sa CPP-NPA. Maging ang kongresista ng Kabataan Partylist na si Bb. Sarah Elago ay hindi nakaligtas sa mga malisyoso at mga mapanirang posts ni G. Lazaro (The post of Mr. Lazaro is malicious – it associates legal organizations to the CPP-NPA without any regard. Even Rep. Sarah Elago of Kabataan Party-list was not spared by from Mr. Lazaro’s malicious and damaging post),” Mariano said.
She stressed that aside from tarnishing the name of their organization and leader, the actions of the two PNP officers and Lazaro put their life and liberty in danger.
The youth leader underscored that with the supervision of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, they expect more incidents of red-tagging from the PNP, the PIA, and other government agencies.
“Sa katotohanan, nakadiin sa pagsugpo sa mga ligal na organisasyon ng mamamayan ang Local Task Force. Hindi CPP NPA ang pangunahing gustong gapiin kundi ang mga lehitimong kritiko ng administrasyong Duterte (The truth is, the Local Task Force focusing on quashing legal people’s organizations. The CPP-NPA is not their primary target but the critics of the Duterte administration),” Mariano added.
Meanwhile, Kabataan Partylist Ilocos said that they are coordinating with their national office and Elago on possible court actions against the increasing incidents of online red-tagging and threats they are receiving.
Renz Kang, the Vice President for Luzon and Ilocos coordinator of Kabataan Party-list said that as a public official, Lazaro should practice prudence before sharing anything on the internet.
“He should at least offer a public apology for the damage and danger he has caused us. As a media practitioner and someone working for the state information arm, he should learn how to fact-check and think before sharing. Para naman siyang ipinanganak yesterday na hindi marunong mag-Google,” he said.
According to him, public servants whether in the civilian or military bureaucracy, should learn not to swallow everything that the government peddles against its critics.
“Mas malala pa mag-isip ang mga ito sa isda, the fish only eats the bait with the hook, eh sila they are swallowing hook, line, and sinker,” Kang added.
The government, especially the police and military, have accused progressive organizations of having ties with the communist rebels. In the Philippines, scores of activists red-tagged have either ended in jail or killed. # nordis.net