After Duterte tirade, Makabayan bloc fears worst attacks to come
Members of the Makabayan bloc face the press in a news conference.
Makabayan bloc/Release

After Duterte tirade, Makabayan bloc fears worst attacks to come

Xave Gregorio (Philstar.com) - December 1, 2020 - 3:17pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Makabayan bloc fears that the worst attacks by the government may just be coming following President Rodrigo Duterte’s insult-laden tirade against them, where he accused, without proof, the group of leftist parties being part of a “grand conspiracy” with communist rebels.

Rep. Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna party-list) told a news conference on Tuesday that they expect members of the security sector will be “emboldened” to intensify their attacks against him and the other members of the Makabayan bloc following Duterte’s remarks.

“We think that they are laying the groundwork so that in the minimum, we will be disqualified in the upcoming 2022 elections, we’ll be removed from Congress,” Zarate said partly in Filipino. “The worst of this all is that we’ll be designated as terrorists.”

Zarate was referring to the process of designation under the highly-contested Anti-Terrorism Act, wherein the Anti-Terrorism Council can formally tag individuals and organizations as terrorists even without a court order, causing their assets to be frozen.

The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict said last month that it is consolidating evidence against the Communist Party of the Philippines and its supposed allies in order for them to be formally tagged as terrorists.

The task force, created by Duterte in 2018, has routinely tagged the Makabayan bloc and other leftist activist groups as “fronts” of the CPP, a charge which they have repeatedly denied.

Members of the Makabayan bloc said that their red-tagging by government forces is just a ploy to shut them up.

“He (Duterte) just wants to shut us up so the people would be distracted from the fact that the government is inutile and has not responded to the needs of the people,” Rep. France Castro (ACT Teachers party-list) said.

This was echoed by Rep. Ferdinand Gaite (Bayan Muna party-list), saying that the government should instead focus on the declining economy on account of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Makabayan bloc and Duterte initially had warm relations at the start of his term, but this gradually soured after peace talks between the government and communist rebels broke down.

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