Senator Panfilo Lacson on Monday called on the House Makabayan Bloc to publicly denounce the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA).
Lacson made the remark as he sponsored the report of the Senate Committees on National Defense and Security; and on Peace, Unification and Reconciliation on their inquiry into incidents of "red-tagging."
The full copy of the committee report was made public on Wednesday last week.
In his sponsorship speech, Lacson admitted that the Makabayan Bloc has no legal responsibility to disown and denounce the CPP-NPA, as it is within their freedom of expression not to speak on the matter.
However, being elected representatives, the progressive group "should work in unison with the national government and its duly constituted authorities," he added.
"The Committee enjoins the members of the Makabayan bloc from the House of Representatives to openly and strongly denounce the CPP-NPA," Lacson said.
"Their public reproach against this group should bear the same tenacity they devote in calling out the administration on almost every aspect of governance," he added.
Address conflict's root causes
Commenting on the committee report, the Makabayan Bloc maintained that they do not espouse nor are engaged in the armed struggle, and do not tolerate atrocities committed by armed conflict.
Nevertheless, they believe that ending armed conflict requires addressing its root causes, including landlessness, massive unemployment, inadequate social services, and widespread poverty and inequality.
"We maintain our principled stand that the armed struggle of the CPP-NPA-NDF, while illegal under our laws, is rooted in historical and legitimate grievances that have to be addressed by the government," the Makabayan Bloc said in a statement.
"To frame this struggle as 'terrorism' and demand that it be denounced as such is to prejudice and foreclose prospects for a negotiated political settlement between the rebels and the government. We are still hopeful that parties would return to the peace table, if not in this administration, then in the next," it added.
Members of the Makabayan Bloc include Bayan Muna party-list Representatives Carlos Zarate, Ferdinand Gaite, and Eufemia Cullamat, ACT Teachers party-list Representative France Castro, Gabriela Women's Party Representative Arlene Brosas, and Kabataan party-list Representative Sarah Elago.
The same committee report stated that there is no need for a new law to penalize red-tagging as there were enough provisions under other judicial remedies for such cases.
“[T]here is no need to pass a law that penalizes red-tagging because recourse is already provided under the Revised Penal Code, Civil Code, special laws, and other judicial remedies,” it read.
“Legal remedies, as exhaustively discussed in this Committee Report, are sufficient and available for personalities or groups that have been the subject of the so-called red-tagging and which some of them have already availed as evidenced by the cases filed in the Ombudsman,” it added. — DVM, GMA News