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Senate panel: Makabayan bloc must denounce NPA atrocitiesâ
Sen. Panfilo Lacson said the inquiry was one of the “most complex” investigations over which he has presided “for it involved parties from the opposite poles that defy the law of magnetism in that not only would never attract each other, but in fact ready to cut each other’s throat.”
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Senate panel: Makabayan bloc must denounce NPA atrocities’

Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - March 3, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Members of the leftist Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives must openly condemn atrocities committed by communist rebels in the country and exert effort to stop the recruitment of the youth as cannon fodder to overthrow the government, the Senate committee on national defense and security has recommended.

“This committee recognizes that the Makabayan bloc has no legal responsibility to disown and denounce the CPP-NPA, as freedom of expression includes the right not to speak. Yet, as elected representatives of a duly-constituted government and as Filipinos who have moral obligations to our countrymen, they should work in unison with the national government and its duly constituted authorities, at the very least, in publicly condemning the atrocities perpetrated by the CPP-NPA,” committee chairman Sen. Panfilo Lacson said on Monday after sponsoring Committee Report No.186 on the panel’s inquiry into the reported “red-tagging” of some prominent personalities and other individuals.

Former leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) and left-leaning lawmakers were among those who testified during committee hearings.

Lacson said the inquiry was one of the “most complex” investigations over which he has presided “for it involved parties from the opposite poles that defy the law of magnetism in that not only would never attract each other, but in fact ready to cut each other’s throat.”

He noted the political activism in the country has taken its course for more than a century with peaceful mass actions, driven by the people’s right to dissent, freedom of speech, free press and the right to petition the government for the redress of grievances, all guaranteed by the Constitution.

However, the freedoms the people enjoy should not infringe on the rights of others and should not be injurious to the welfare of the community or society, the senator said, giving the summary of his report.

“If there is even just a single point that the security sector and the progressive groups must mutually agree in this course of public inquiries, it is the condemnation of the acts of aggression of the CPP-NPA-NDF in the strongest possible terms,” Lacson said.

He said Filipinos expect no less from the Makabayan lawmakers, especially that they are alleged to be also secretly holding leadership posts in the CPP-NPA-NDF.

He said denouncing and disassociating themselves from the deadly and violent guerrilla warfare that has claimed the lives of many young Filipinos would help in promoting peace in the country.

Lacson said the leftist lawmakers should also investigate and hold accountable those found involved in the alleged rigorous recruitment of their members by the NPA.

By not doing so, the lawmakers would be remiss in their mandates as public servants in pursuit of reforms by way of peace such as legal protest, related mass actions and participatory governance, he said.

He noted the CPP-NPA-NDF has long been emphasizing the instrumental role of the youth in advancing the cause of its violent insurgency.

“Of these disputes, one thing is unassailable – the CPP-NPA’s grave violations no longer demand the protection of freedom granted by the Constitution. Inarguably, their actions should not be abetted, condoned or rationalized by any peace-loving Filipino,” Lacson said.

He said the issue of red-tagging was spawned by the controversial remarks of Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., chief of the Armed Forces Southern Luzon Command and spokesman of the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), whom he admonished to be more circumspect in his statements.

The senator said there are many legal avenues or options that any aggrieved party may take if he or she feels being “red-tagged” or persecuted on account of his or her legitimate advocacies.

The report also asked the security sector to give greater attention to the strengthening of its intelligence gathering and analysis capability to ensure that every piece of information is indeed verified and actionable.

“Legal course of action shall take precedence before any propaganda that may be defamatory to one’s person,” Lacson said.

“In the same manner, they should exercise caution in making public pronouncements as these carry with it a semblance of authority from the State which, if wrongly carried out, may result in polarization between the government and the people,” he said.

PANFILO LACSON
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