In this July 22, 2019 photo, Rep. Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna Party-list) graces the red carpet prior to President Rodrigo Duterte's third State of the Nation Address. During the House of Representatives hearing for the budget of the Department of National Defense, Zarate appealed to the government to stop red-tagging party-list groups of the Makabayan bloc.
Philstar.com/Kat Leandicho, file
Lorenzana to Makabayan: Red-tagging stops when you condemn CPP-NPA
Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - August 27, 2019 - 3:49pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government will stop accusing left-leaning party-list groups of rebel support if they condemn the actions of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People's Army, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.

During the House hearing on the proposed budget of the Department of National Defense, Rep. Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna Paryty-list) criticized the government's supposed "villification campaign" against progressive groups.

Lorenzana claimed that his agency has evidence that the Makabayan groups are being used by the CPP-NPA to strengthen their ranks.

The Makabayan bloc at the House comprises representatives of Bayan Muna, Gabriela, ACT Teachers and Kabataan party-list.

RELATED: Makabayan lawmakers deny communist tag

"If you have evidence, bring it to the proper forum... don't go on a blanket villification campaign against us," Zarate told Lorenzana in a mix of English and Filipino.

The Bayan Muna representative claimed that there had been a "villification campaign" against his party in the previous midterm elections.

Zarate said the red-tagging against the Makabayan bloc makes them "vulnerable" even if they are members of the House of Representatives as they are being labelled as terrorists.

Philippine jurisprudence defines red-tagging as “the act of labelling, branding, naming and accusing individuals and/or organizations of being left-leaning, subversives, communists or terrorists (used as) a strategy... by State agents, particularly law enforcement agencies and the military, against those perceived to be ‘threats’ or ‘enemies of the State.’”

Lorenzana, meanwhile, responded to Zarate by pointing out that it was CPP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison who labelled the progressive part-list groups as part of the CPP.

"I will ask the Makabayan bloc — condemn the CPP-NPA. You're not condemning them," Lorenzana said.

The Defense chief said the red-tagging against party-list groups would only stop if they condemn the violent acts of the communist party.

"You do not condemn the killings, atrocities of the CPP-NPA. When they burn equipment, you are silent. How can we now dissociate you from this group when you keep quiet," the DND secretary said.

In an interview on ANC last week, Neri Colmenares—Bayan Muna chairman and its former House representative—said agreeing with communist rebels on some issues is not the same thing as taking up arms against the government.

"If the NPA believes that there should be land for the landless, it doesn't preclude other groups from also espousing the same principles," he said.

"You don't lump the opposition with armed combatants just because they espouse similar issues," Colmenares said.

RELATED: 'Being leftist is far from being a terrorist,' Justice secretary stresses

CARLOS ISAGANI ZARATE COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE PHILIPPINES-NEW PEOPLE’S ARMY DELFIN LORENZANA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES MAKABAYAN BLOC
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