In this August 9, 2019 file photo, members of the Makabayan bloc file a security of tenure bill meant to end the contractualization of labor.
The STAR/Edu Punay
64 House members rally support for Makabayan bloc amid 'crackdown'
Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - November 14, 2019 - 6:42pm

MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers from the House of Representatives from across political parties rallied support for their colleagues in the Makabayan bloc amid a crackdown against progressive groups, including the party-lists with the bloc.

Sixty-four lawmakers affixed their signatures to the statement of support for members of the Makabayan bloc and called for a stop to the “crackdown on progressives and the opposition.”

This comes amid Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Deputy Administrator Mocha Uson tagged a youth forum organized by Kabataan party-list, represented at the House by Rep. Sarah Elago, as an event for "communist groups and terrorist sympathizers."

No place in democracy

Lawmakers called for stop to attacks against their elected colleagues and members of the party-lists under the Makabayan bloc.

The bloc is composed of Bayan Muna, Gabriela Women's Party, ACT Teachers Party and Kabataan party-list. The party-lists have six seats at the 300-member House of Representatives.

"The Makabayan bloc is a productive and dynamic part of the House Minority, whose members properly perform their role as credible fiscalizers of the administration, wholly within the bounds of the Constitution," the joint statement read

They stressed that different ideologies should be respected and protected in a democratic country like the Philippines.

"Such attacks have no place in democracy," they said.

Last October, members of Bayan, Bayan Muna, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Karapatan, Gabriela, the National Federation of Sugar Workers and Negros Island Health Integrated Program in Bacolod City were arrested after the police implemented search warrant in their offices.

The police were alleging illegal possession of firearms and explosives against the groups.

The following week, police raided the office of Bagong Alyasang Makabayan in Tondo, Manila and arrested three activists.

RELATED: Bayan office raid in Manila proof of 'creeping martial law' — Zarate

Thirty-one of the activists arrested in the Bacolod raids were released due to insufficiency of evidence.

The activist groups accused the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines of planting evidence in an attempt to keep their members behind bars and silent dissent.

Uson red tags Kabataan forum

While members of the House of Representatives called for support for their colleagues, OWWA Deputy Administrator Uson tagged a forum organized by Kabataan party-list as an event for terrorists.

Uson reposted on her Facebook blog Kabataan’s invite for its "1st National Students Day Youth Camp" and warned parents to take care of their children.

The official, a staunch supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte, branded the youth forum as a “youth camp for communist groups and terrorist sympathizers.”

Kabataan party-list has one seat in the Congress. The forum that Uson tagged as being for communists was endorsed by the Commission on Higher Education.

Uson's accusation followed the Department of National Defense assertion that Gabriela Women's Party, also represented at the 18th Congress, is one of 18 organizations that serve as "fronts of terrorist groups."

RELATED: 'We are a humanitarian organization,' Oxfam stresses after AFP labels them terrorist front

Red-tagging is defined by Philippine jurisprudence 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.’”

Members of several rights groups and the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers sought relief from the Court of Appeals against red-tagging as they said that their rights to life, liberty and security have been violated by “persistent threats and harassment, and red-tagging."

The court junked their pleas.

READ: Makabayan lawmakers deny communist tag

BAYAN MUNA GABRIELA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES KABATAAN MAKABAYAN BLOC MOCHA USON
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