(We yield this space to the statement of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan – Panay due to its timeliness. – Ed.)
FOR THE past months, state agents have been visiting members of sectoral groups, either in their homes or through barangay officials asking for their profiles and inviting them to come to the offices of the police and the Armed Forces in the region or province. These sectoral organizations have been repeatedly tagged as communist fronts through forums in schools and social media.
In the province of Iloilo, eight members of various sectoral groups have reported having been visited once, twice or thrice or have been confronted on their way home by state agents who refused to give their IDs for proper identification. These state agents are using vehicles without plate numbers. The same incidents were also reported in Aklan and Capiz provinces.
The police resorted to this red-tagging through social media accounts during election time and when confronted during a picket-dialogue, they immediately took down their posts and made new accounts. Today, these official social media accounts have again done the same thing. In schools, National Service Training Program (NSTP) classes are used, through so-called “peace and development forums”, to red-tag legitimate student organizations at the West Visayas State University and University of the Philippines Visayas.
Aside from the attacks against progressive forces, local government officials are also tagged as supporting the New People’s Army.
These acts need to be condemned. Just like in their anti-drug war tokhang methods, state agents are quick to judge guilty suspected drug dependents without due process and proper investigations. But when it comes to administration lapdogs and minions they are quick to defend them saying that the rule of law shall be followed. Such hypocrisy and double standard have already taken 27,000 lives of suspected drug suspects and more than 200 innocent civilians and members of the progressive groups.
The 1987 Philippine Constitution under the Bill of Rights enshrines every people’s right to freedom of expression, to peaceably assemble and the right to association or organization.
The issues and concerns raised by activists and progressive organizations are legitimate people’s agenda like landlessness, the scrapping of the TRAIN law and Rice Liberalization Law, higher wages and security of tenure, free education and right to hold strikes, and many more. These issues are what the administration needs to address. So long as these legitimate concerns are not solved, millions of people will continue to protest and demand that the rotten and corrupt system is changed.