Health workers' and teachers' groups latest to be red-tagged by NTF-ELCAC
In this April 2020 photo, medical workers screen patients for possible COVID-19 before admission at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) in Quezon City
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman

Health workers' and teachers' groups latest to be red-tagged by NTF-ELCAC

Christian Deiparine (Philstar.com) - April 11, 2021 - 5:19pm

MANILA, Philippines — Teachers' and health workers' groups have hit back at the spokesperson of the government's ant-communist task force for saying they are fronts of the CPP-NPA, a common claim now made against activist groups.

Presidential Communications Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy, in an April 7 column in state-run Philippine News Agency, said the Alliance of Concerned Teachers and the Alliance of Health Workers were created by communist rebels "precisely for the infiltration of government." 

The NTF-ELCAC official is known for blatantly red-tagging individuals and institutions. Cases such as this saw an increase under the present administration, with the United Nations' Human Rights Office noting that red-tagging poses a "serious threat to civil society and freedom of expression" in its report last June.

Badoy has rejected the term "red-tagging" and the government prefers the term "truth-tagging" to the practice of accusing legitimate activist groups and activists themselves of being fronts for or members of the armed communist movement.

Membership or support for an activist group is not the same as being a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines or of the New People's Army.

Exec claims groups 'undermine' government by defending activists

In the column, she said government workers' organizations undermine government by coming to the defense of groups she claimed are affiliated with the armed communist movement. They are also supposedly able to infiltrate schools and medical facilities through underground organizations. 

The ACT denounced this as Badoy spewing "tired accusations" against COVID-19 frontliners while government "squanders away people's money on the likes of Badoy" and on the said task force.

"[Undersecretary] Badoy accused us of 'destroying the government from within' without a modicum of proof other than that we're supposed to be fronts of CPP-NPA-NDF," said the ACT in a statement on Sunday. "Meanwhile, our public school teachers slave away, risk their health and safety, sacrifice what little they have—all to ensure that millions of youth have access to education."

The group added that it has fought for legitimate concerns of teachers over the years and especially amid the coronavirus pandemic "for better working conditions and in defense of rights and liberties."

The Alliance of Health Workers, meanwhile, urged the Civil Service Commission and the Ombudsman to probe Badoy's actions. It said the recent incident could count as violations of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for those working in government.

"This is very unbecoming and unprofessional of a medical doctor like her," AHW said, referring to Badoy. "We call on [her] to concentrate and pay attention inherduty as a doctor of medicine to take care and treat her countrymen who are afflicted by COVID-19 infection, instead of intimidating and insulting her fellow health workers."

The groups are not the first to have been subject to red-tagging. Minority senators as well as Sandigan ng mga Empleyadong Nagkakaisa sa Adhikain ng Demokratikong Organisasyon, the union at the Senate, earlier in the week were up in arms over the head of Philippine intelligence claiming on Facebook that union members were working with communist rebels to "hijack" government programs.

Although Senate workers are indispensable to the chamber's operations, legislative decisions are made by senators, most of whom are in the administration majority bloc. 

“SENADO is a legitimate union of employees in the Senate,” the minority bloc said in defense of the union. “SENADO union upholds the interest and welfare of Senate employees, not of any other group.”

In March, the NTF-ELCAC spokesperson claimed that online news site Rappler is a "mouthpiece" of communist rebels after it wrote fact checks on her claims regarding the indigenous Lumads.

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