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Makabayan bloc cries foul over surveillance of its members, Colmenares

The House Makabayan bloc on Monday cried foul over the admission of National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) spokesperson Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade, Jr. that they are under surveillance along with Bayan Muna chair Neri Colmenares.

"We, the Makabayan bloc in Congress, condemn the continued red tagging and surveillance not just of our chairman former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmemares but our whole bloc as well," the group said in a collective statement.

In an ANC interview earlier in the day, Parlade said Colmenares and the Makabayan bloc are under surveillance for being "card-bearing" members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

"It's not only Neri Colmenares [who is under surveillance] but it is also other members of the Kamatayan bloc, the Makabayan bloc," he said.

"They are card-bearing members of the Communist Party of the Philippines, and I like to repeat that again and again and again," he added, citing information from former CPP members who are now with the government.

The Makabayan Bloc said they see this move as the NTF-ELCAC leadership "hitting back" at them after they exposed the "generals' pork" under the task force's budget for 2021, supposedly amounting to P19.1 billion.

"This P19.1 billion generals' pork will put to shame even the millions the generals and their cohorts get from fake arrests and fake surrenderees under various programs like the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program or E-CLIP," they said.

"This fake surrenderee racket was exposed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) itself with their photoshopped pictures of supposed rebel surrenderees as well as that the number of supposed NPA surrenderees surpasses even the AFP's figures for NPA strength all over the country," they added.

The Makabayan lawmakers believe that this P19.1-billion could have been used to augment the budget for healthcare, for job creation, and for the provision of assistance to those affected by the pandemic, but instead it is being used "to spread fake news, red tag, and intimidate freedom loving citizens of this country."

"When they saw that their made up cases, lying witnesses, and travelling skeletons would not hold water, they pushed for the terror law, that they are now salivating to use against the opposition and critics of the anti-people policies of the Duterte administration," they said

"Again, we reiterate our call to stop the red tagging of the Makabayan bloc, the harassment and surveillance of its officers and members because we are just defending human rights," they added.

For his part, Colmenares said Parlade and the NTF-ELCAC are violating the Anti-Terrorism Law over the conduct of surveillance even without a judicial order.

"They [are] conducting surveillance as a prelude to their proscription when there is no court order under Section 17 of the Anti-Terror Law which requires them, and in fact penalizes them any unauthorized surveillance of any form without judicial order, is liable for 10 years in prison," he said.

"This is really one more thing that we will raise before the Supreme Court that the supposed safeguards are not really in place because the military has admitted to violating them, surveillance without judicial order," he added.—AOL, GMA News