Robredo campaign: No payments, no NDF involved in massive Cavite rally

Robredo campaign: No payments, no NDF involved in massive Cavite rally
Photo shows presidential candidate Leni Robredo at a campaign event in Silang, Cavite.
Image from VP Leni Robredo / Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo's spokesperson on Sunday stressed that attendees at a campaign rally in General Trias, Cavite on Friday were an organic crowd as a local congressman claimed that they were paid to be there. 

Speaking over Robredo's weekly radio show aired over radio dzXL, lawyer Barry Guttierez, Robredo's spokesperson, said that the crowd of an estimated 47,000 supporters "really walked all the way [because] they are really the ones who want to go there."

"It's difficult that perhaps other politicians have grown accustomed to the fact that in their rallies they really pay off people just to have a crowd. So they think, that's the only way to have people at a political rally."

Rep. Jesus Crispin "Boying" Remulla (Cavite 7th District) made the claim over radio DZRH radio Saturday, referring to Robredo by her campaign color and political affiliations but not by name.

"In Cavite, there is a politician who paid each participant P500...They even had jeeps, a staging area, t-shirts, and uniforms. You can tell they are not indigenous because they are wearing uniforms. The people were paid to come," he said in Filipino.

"Their uniform is, of course, pink. It is very obvious. The signboards in jeepneys were covered because they are not from the area...A lot of students were there and they looked like activists," he said, jumping to the conclusion that they seemed to be "from the Left."

He claimed further, without proof, that the students had been "trained" by the National Democratic Front. The Anti-Terrorism Council has designated the NDF, the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People's Army as terrorist groups.

Red-tagging, or linking activist groups to the communist armed struggle, is a common tactic of government agencies and officials and has been used against environmentalists, human rights workers and journalists regardless of ideology.

The UN Human Rights Office, the Commission on Human Rights and other rights advocates have long pointed out that the practice is dangerous and has been institutionalized in the Philippines.

RELATED: Labeling dissent as rebellion 'institutionalized, normalized' in Philippines — UN report

Remulla is the older brother of Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla, who earlier commited to deliver a victory for former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in the second most vote-rich province in the country by 800,000 votes. Robredo's supporters in Cavite rallied under the cry, "800,000 minus one," in reference to their governor's supposed commitment. 

Reacting to a report on Remulla's claims, fellow presidential aspirant Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson, who hails from Cavite himself, also red-tagged the crowd, saying: "This is worrisome. A coalition government with the [Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front] will set back the gains of the government’s efforts to end the country’s decades-old insurgency problem."

"With all the bashing I’m getting for the 'coalition with the CPP/NPA/NDF' tweet I posted earlier, there must be basis for the age-old quote - ‘truth hurts’. I care for my country that continues to suffer from the longest-running insurgency in the world. I just want it to end," he tweeted again hours later after drawing flak for his baseless red-tagging. 

Akbayan: No NDF at the rally

In a statement, democratic socialist political party Akbayan, which is in a formal alliance with Robredo's campaign, said that Remulla's claim was a "patently absurd [and] blatant lie" that it "will not allow to pass."

Akbayan is at ideological odds with the national democratic activist movement and with the CPP-NPA-NDF.

"We will never close ranks with an armed non-state actor that refuses to hold itself to account and carries a long and shameful history of atrocities against the people, the most recent of which was the NPA's killing of Far Eastern University football player Kieth Absalon and SENTRO trade union leader Nolven Absalon," it said. 

"We call on Rep. Remulla to immediately stop red-tagging the broad pink movement, particularly his own constituents in Cavite. It is such unbecoming conduct from an official who is supposed to respect the will of his people. He should respect the right of his people to campaign peacefully and safely against any form of scare tactics and intimidation."



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