Press Release
March 16, 2021

Senate adopts defense committee report on 'red-tagging or red-baiting'

The Senate adopted on Wednesday, March 10, 2021, a report by the Committee on National Defense and Security, Peace, Unification and Reconciliation on Senate Resolution No. 559 inquiring into the alleged "red-tagging or red-baiting" of certain celebrities, personalities, institutions and organizations by military officials.

Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson, chairman of the defense committee and sponsor of Committee Report No. 186, noted the inquiry had been "one of the most complex" he presided but still managed to objectively hear both sides and extracted the best available information for the Senate and the public to digest and come up with well-informed decisions.

The chamber upheld the recommendations of the Senate panel's 77-page committee report including relieving Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. as spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), strengthening the intelligence-gathering and analysis by the security sector, and directing the members of the Makabayan bloc from the House of Representatives to denounce the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA), among others.

But while the report stated that legal remedies are sufficient and available for personalities or groups that have been the subject of so-called "red-tagging," with some of them having availed of such options as evidenced by cases filed with the Ombudsman, it does not preclude any appropriate Senate committee from studying and considering proposed measures to criminalize "red-tagging."

The committee, in recommending Parlade's removal as NTF-ELCAC spokesperson, cited Article XVI, Sec. 5 (4) of the Constitution, which provides: "No member of the Armed Forces in the active service shall, at any time, be appointed or designated in any capacity to a civilian position in the government including government-owned or controlled corporation or any of their subsidiaries."

"In compliance with the Constitution and as a matter of policy, we should prevent the potential conflict between the policies of the NTF-ELCAC and the mandate of the security sector by engaging a spokesperson who does not hold concurrent mandates in the security force. This should be a prerequisite for a spokesperson in the faithful performance of his official duty," the panel report reads.

The committee also enjoins the members of the Makabayan bloc to "openly and strongly" denounce the atrocities perpetrated by the CPP-NPA, adding that they should show the same level of public reproach against the group as what they have been doing in calling out the administration on almost every aspect of governance.

Meanwhile, the committee also emphasized the need for the security sector to strengthen its intelligence gathering and analysis capability to ensure that every piece of information is indeed verified and actionable.

"Legal course of action shall take precedence before any propaganda that may be defamatory to one's person. In the same manner, they should exercise caution in making public pronouncements as these carry with it a semblance of authority from the State which, if wrongly carried out, may result in polarization between the government and the people," Lacson said.

The committee also underscored the importance of promoting updates and accomplishments of the localized peace talks, adding that the program, pursuant to its intent, should focus on its development-centered efforts against armed conflicts in order to earn the support of the public towards lasting peace.

"Despite some isolated blunders, the committee believes that the 'whole-of-nation' approach spearheaded by the NTF-ELCAC, thus far, can be our most effective anti-insurgency program as evidenced by the continuous and consistent reduction of the influence and strength of the CPP-NPA," the committee report said.

The panel also recommended that the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Interior and Local Government, the Department of Education, the Commission on Higher Education, the office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and other relevant agencies, in coordination with the private, academic and socio-civic organizations, to conduct an in-depth and comprehensive study to identify the root causes why minors, students, and the underprivileged were easily lured and indoctrinated into groups promoting the overthrow of government or conduct terroristic attacks.

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