Third Senate Committee Hearing on Red-Tagging

December 1, 2020 - As far as we are concerned, a dead NPA rebel or a dead soldier is only as bad and tragic as a dead Filipino. For we see no difference at all except probably the cause that they fought and died for.” – Sen. Ping Lacson, at the start of the third Senate committee hearing on alleged red-tagging.

At the start of the hearing, Sen. Lacson said that “as far as we are concerned, a dead NPA rebel or a dead soldier is only as bad and tragic as a dead Filipino. For we see no difference at all except probably the cause that they fought and died for.”

This was after Senate President Tito Sotto expressed on behalf of the Senate “our deepest condolences and sympathy” to Bayan Muna Rep. Cullamat for the loss of her daughter Jevilyn. “Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your entire family. May your beautiful memories sustain and bring comfort to you during this difficult time.”

Sen. Lacson asked questions on the recruitment process of the NPA. He asked representatives of the security sector if they can state categorically that former Reps. Neri Colmenares, Teodoro Casiño and Raymond Tinio, and incumbent Reps. Carlos Isagani Zarate and Sarah Elago have not directly or personally recruited anyone who became a member of the NPA. “Can you name any member or officer of their organization/s na directly nakapag-recruit, based on evidence or testimony na directly nag-recruit para maging NPA?” he added.

Sen. Lacson asked the resource persons what would happen to peace negotiations between the government and the CPP-NDF if the court proscribes the CPP as a terrorist organization. “Ang concern lang is the state policy not to negotiate with terrorists,” he said, noting that President Rodrigo Duterte had issued Presidential Proclamation 374 declaring the CPP-NPA as a “designated” terrorist organization under RA 10168; while a proscription case against the CPP is pending before a Manila court.

Sen. Lacson asked former Rep. Casiño about his earlier statement that CPP founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison had made a “distinction” between the armed revolutionary movement and the “legal democratic forces,” and that by making that distinction, Sison is not saying the CPP is controlling everything. When Casiño answered “yes” when asked if Sison does not control everything, Sen. Lacson asked: “That also explains the fact na maski nagpirma siya ng ceasefire, tuloy ang atake ng NPA kasi he does not control?

Sen. Lacson asks the resource persons if there is basis to criminalize red-tagging. “I am thinking of asking DOJ if there is basis enough to legislate, as suggested by Dean La Viña, to criminalize red-tagging. But I want to find out first from DOJ kung may magiging basehan kung gawin natin yan. Baka bumangga sa freedom of expression. Pag sabi komunista ka, sagot ng kabila pasista ka. Saan tayo lulugar?”

Sen. Lacson stressed the hearing is not for show, and that they are looking for solutions to the problem. “This is not for show.” He added the Senate aims to come up with long- and short-term solutions “by way of legislation."

Sen. Lacson received assurances from the security sector that they did not desecrate the remains of Jevilyn Cullamat, after she was killed in an encounter with government troops last weekend. Cullamat’s mother, Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat, claimed Jevilyn’s remains were desecrated. “We treated the body of Jevelyn Cullamat with respect and dignity,” AFP Deputy Chief of Staff VIce Admiral Erick Kagaoan said. Sen. Lacson noted it is important that the issue be addressed, adding the desecration of a lifeless body “is not only un-Filipino, it is also un-Christian.”

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