Makabayan solons' presence in Congress further strengthens communist rebels —Lorenzana
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is firm in having the House Makabayan Bloc removed from Congress, claiming that their continued representation only strengthens communist rebels.
This, even as the progressive lawmakers have repeatedly denied that they are not members nor legal fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People's Army.
In a Dobol B sa News TV interview on Sunday, Lorenzana, who himself is a member of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), admitted that having the Makabayan Bloc party-lists disqualified in the next elections is one of the ways to have them removed from Congress.
"Isa 'yan sa methods o paraan na puwede silang matanggal diyan sa Kongreso. Dahil alam niyo ang history nila, wala naman silang ginawa kundi batikusin ang gobyerno. Habang nandiyan sila lalong lumalakas ang CPP-NPA," he said.
"Dahil sa legal fronts nga raw sila, meron silang legal cover. Para bang sa kanila, puwede na nilang gawin ang gusto nilang gawin dahil legal fronts sila," he added.
Lorenzana said he earlier told the Makabayan Bloc members to denounce the activities of the communist rebels, which he said they did not heed.
"Wala e, tahimik lang sila. Ibig sabihin kasama sila diyan. Nagbubulag-bulagan lang tayo, pero kasama sila diyan," he said.
GMA News Online has reached out to the Makabayan lawmakers for their response on Lorenzana's claims.
Bayan Muna party-list Representative Carlos Zarate, however, has earlier said that not renouncing armed struggle does not necessarily mean membership in a communist organization.
"While we work for social reforms through elections and legislation, we believe that as a matter of principle, we cannot condemn the people's option to armed struggle because we believe that it is a legitimate option of the people," he said.
Zarate also pointed out that the belief in armed struggle as a legitimate option against oppression cannot be treated as a crime as the right to political belief is protected under Article III, Section 18 of the Constitution, which states that "[n]o person shall be detained solely by reason of his political beliefs and aspirations."
"People who refuse to condemn the EDSA uprising or coups against Ferdinand Marcos or Gloria Arroyo for example cannot be imprisoned based on their belief that the demands of these uprisings are legitimate and that Marcos and Arroyo are illegitimate presidents," he said.
"It is not proof that because they do not condemn, they are involved or are 'fronts' of these uprisings," he added.
The Makabayan lawmakers earlier challenged President Rodrigo Duterte himself and other government officials to file charges against them in court if they have credible evidence to say that they are indeed connected with communist rebels.
"President Duterte and his ilk do not have any credible evidence against us, because if so they would have gone to court a long time ago," they said.
"They have been saying for the longest time that they have tons of evidence. Then present it in court now, not just rant about it," they added.
Last month, Duterte on Monday accused militant organizations of being participants in a grand conspiracy led by the CPP to oust the government.
Duterte indicated that groups such as the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives, Bayan and Gabriela were not being red-tagged but were being named definitively as fronts for the CPP and the National Democratic Front. —KG, GMA News