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Removing Makabayan Bloc from Congress would worsen public anger at gov't —Castro

Removing the Makabayan Bloc in Congress would only worsen the public's anger towards the government, ACT Teachers party-list Representative France Castro said Sunday.

Castro made the remark after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that the bloc's presence in Congress only strengthens the forces of the communist rebels, whom they already denied serving as legal fronts for.

In a statement, Castro said that disqualifying Makabayan lawmakers in the next elections would show that the Duterte administration is merely belittling their legitimate calls for fare hikes for teachers, additional benefits for workers, and protection against anti-people policies of the government.

"Hindi ang pagpapatanggal sa amin ang magpapahina o magpapatalo sa CPP-NPA kung iyon ang gusto nilang mangyari. Mas marami lamang mamamayan ang magagalit at lalaban sa administrasyong prayoridad ang atakihin ang mga lehitimong panawagan ng mamamayan sa gitna ng pandemiya at matinding krisis pang-ekonomiya," she said.

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 pwede 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, merong silang legal cover, para bang sa kanila, pwede na nilang gawin ang gusto nilang gawin dahil legal fronts sila," he added.

Castro maintained that the government has no basis to say that Makabayan Bloc members are indeed linked with communist rebels.

"These baseless allegations and illogical statements of the security sector against the Makabayan bloc and other progressive organizations only shows that they are the true peace saboteurs and have no interest in solving the roots of armed conflict," he said.

For his part, Bayan Muna party-list Representative Carlos Zarate said that the government's plan to have the Makabayan lawmakers disqualified is only meant to harass and defeat them in 2022 elections.

"They may still file criminal cases against us for show but they know these will be dismissed like their other criminal cases, where they used the same allegations using the same witnesses and documents, which were also dismissed by the courts and even the Department of Justice, for lack of evidence," he said.

"Red-tagging is not truth-tagging. It is a witch hunt and an attempt to destroy dissent and the opposition," he added. — BM, GMA News