Discrediting activism, criticism through red-tagging
Shameless was the first word that came to mind when I read the response of Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Southern Luzon Command, to Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla, who said the former “should be ashamed of himself” for warning female celebrities Liza Soberano and Catriona Gray against engaging with Gabriela Youth, and for supposedly accusing Manila Mayor Isko Moreno of sympathizing with “terrorists” when he ordered the removal of tarpaulins declaring the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army, and the National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) “persona non grata” or unwelcome persons in the city.
Ironically, Parlade, who also serves as spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac), said it was not right to accuse him — especially in social media — of putting propaganda tarpaulins (although he fully supports it) in Manila and Cavite, but he does not see anything wrong with labeling legal mass organizations as communist fronts. Following the red-tagging general’s logic, any local official who does not allow the display of anti-red slogans in his locality is actually “welcoming” communist rebels.
As rabid anti-communists, Parlade and his cohorts couldn’t care less if they endanger the lives of unarmed activists and critics of the government whom they link to the underground movement. Their intention is to discredit the essential role of activism and criticism in our society by spreading communist fear. They want to keep the Filipino people subservient, even as the Duterte administration has failed miserably to improve the lives of the masses with its neoliberal policies, which feed corruption and undermine the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NTF-Elcac, which was created by President Duterte and has a P19-billion budget allocation for 2021, is trying very hard to portray the communists as the Big Bad Wolf that everyone should fear, yet reality shows otherwise. Last time I checked, it was not the CPP that waged the bloody drug war that killed thousands of poor Filipinos; it was not the NPA that massacred farmers and indigenous people; it was not the NDF that allowed a hero’s burial for the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, whose regime was responsible for countless human rights violations. So, really, who is the terrorist?
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