Why Bayan won't condemn NPA, armed struggle to avoid red-tagging

The Bagong Alyang Makabayan on Wednesday saw no need to condemn the New People’s Army and the armed insurgency to prove that it was a legal organization.

In a statement following a Senate hearing on the alleged tagging of leftist groups as fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the NPA, Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes added that the armed struggle was "not necessarily terrorist."

“A poor man steals from a grocery to feed his hungry children. It is a crime. Do we condemn the man? No. We know he was forced to commit a crime because of poverty and desperation,” Reyes said.

“A farmer loses his land to land-grabbers. He loses his livelihood. He joins the NPA because they are implementing a kind of land reform. Do we condemn the farmer? No. Landlessness made him rebel,” he added.

Reyes also said condemning armed struggle instead of addressing the conditions that gave rise to it “will only lead to the denial of the social basis of armed conflict and falls right into the militarist approach.”

“We take note of many government officials in the past, [President Rodrigo] Duterte included, who were not required to make such condemnations and who used their position in government to push for peace negotiations,” he added.

Reyes said the right to rebel was recognized internationally.

“There have been several armed rebellions in the Philippines where the government employed peace negotiations instead of terrorist-labelling,” Reyes said.

Civilian and military officials have dared Makabayan party-list representatives and their allied leftist groups such as Bayan to condemn the CPP-NPA to prove that they were not legal fronts of the communist movement.

The supposed policy of red-tagging by the government is now the subject of a Senate inquiry after a Southern Luzon Command chief Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr. red-tagged former Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares and Ella Colmenares, the sister of actress Angel Locsin.

He also warned celebrities Liza Soberano and Catriona Gray against supporting the Gabriela Women’s Party.

In September, a House panel suspended the budget briefing of the Presidential Communications Operations Office after its undersecretary, Lorraine Badoy, accused the lawmakers in the Makabayan bloc of being “high-ranking” CPP members. 

The congressmen later called for Badoy’s resignation, while Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate said she was merely diverting attention away from the issue of the “general’s pork.”

Reyes said that to require  militant groups to condemn the CPP-NPA was to subject them to a “witch hunt.”



“Will you now require every citizen to make a similar condemnation just to prove they are not NPA? Again, that is witch-hunting. That is dangerous. It encourages rather than discourages red-tagging,” Reyes said.

A 2011 human rights journal said red-tagging or red-baiting was “the act of labelling, branding, naming and accusing individuals and/or organizations of being left-leaning, subversives, communists or terrorists.” -NB, GMA News

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