Protest against red-tagging

Protest against red-tagging

Everyone has a right to his/her good name. If this is true for each individual person, it is more so for groups and institutions. To accuse a whole institution in public, and much more, in an official government hearing, and by no less than a government body which is supposed to be reputable, without irrefutable evidence, is the height of malice. One cannot just name-drop an institution because institutions have many supporters, self-less workers, and admirable activities. Red-tagging is one such practice, and it is being done by the military and police institutions to persons and institutions who do not toe the line of the government, and who expose their human rights abuses, or who empower people to speak out against projects that do not promote the good of the ordinary people and the environment.

On November 5, Major General Reuben S. Basiao, Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence of the Department of National Defense (DND) gave a briefing on the security situation of the country to the Committee on National Defense in a committee hearing in Congress. Present in the hearing was no less than Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. It is an official affair. There was a presentation of “front organizations” that provide fund generation to the CPP-NDF-NPA which is considered a Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) by the government.

 The unfounded inclusion of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) in the list of the alleged “communist front organizations” is a threat not only to particular Christian churches but to the role of religion in society in general.

NCCP is one of the leading faith-based and humanitarian organizations in the country that respond to the needs and concerns of people. Its social action arm is committed to delivering humanitarian aid and social services especially to the least and most abandoned. The NCCP is made up of mainline Protestant Churches which stand firm promoting peace and unity, the protection of the dignity of life, and the respect for human rights in their proclamation of Christ as Saviour and Lord.

Among the more than 50 organizations and institutions, both local and international, which the military claims “wittingly or unwittingly” aid the CTG are also reputable groups that work in the country to help the poor and the victims of natural calamities, especially Typhoon Yolanda. They named the Diocesan Social Action Center of Kalibo, Caritas Australia, Caritas Austria, Caritas Belgium, Caritas Switzerland, Save the Children Foundation, Bread for the World, Oxfam International, Swedish Red Cross, Mercy Relief, just to name a few of the more prominent ones.

It is inherent to the churches and the aid organizations to provide help to everyone who is in need especially in times of disaster, regardless of political or religious beliefs. We do not ask a victim of a calamity if he or she is a communist before giving assistance.

Faith-based institutions, and humanitarian and development organizations, should be encouraged and supported by the government. They are doing what the government cannot do, or they do better, faster and with less wastage than what the government is mandated to do.

Stop the practice of red-tagging! If their intelligence, if they have one, indicate that a person or a group is engaged in illegal activities, then bring them to court rather than flaunting their name as supporting communist terrorists. Everyone has a right to their good name!