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At the resumption of the Senate national defense and security, peace, unification and reconciliation committee hearing on the “red-tagging” of government critics, prominent Makabayan activists appeared to refute claims of military leaders that they belonged to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and were active recruiters of the New People’s Army (NPA).

Former Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro Casiño said there was no truth to the claims of witnesses presented by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) that he was part of the CPP and espoused the use of violent force against the government.

“I have always worked within the bounds of the Constitution, I don’t espouse violent means… I don’t recruit for the NPA. Di po ako rebelde. Ako po ay aktibista,” he said.

“To name-drop me to bolster his stature as a CPP insider, is false and unfair,” Casiño said, referring to one of the NTF-ELCAC’s witnesses, Jeffrey Celis.

“What they churn out are all unsupported and sweeping accusations to discredit me and the organizations I work with. They are putting my life and my family’s in danger,” he said.

“This is the danger of red-tagging. You are labeled a communist, a terrorist, to scare you… Red-tagging is guilt by association with our accusers serving as judge, jury and executioner,” he lamented.

“This is nothing but a trial by publicity with the Senate serving unfortunately as their biggest platform today,” Casiño said.

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate said he and the other Makabayan leaders appeared at the hearing not only to refute the claims of their accusers but also to exact accountability for their unsubstantiated claims.

“Masama at mali ang red-tagging at nagresulta ito sa mas matindi pang paglabag sa karapatang pantao gaya ng trumped-up charges at EJK,” he said.

“Pilit kaming iniiuugnay sa terorismo. Ito ay isang malaking kasinungalingan. Bilang mga mambabatas ay ginagampanan lamang namin ang aming mga sinumpaang tungkulin ayon sa ating Saligang Batas at iba pang mga batas,” Zarate said.

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