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Justice chief, anti-communist task force lock horns over red-tagging practices 

PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

THE GOVERNMENT’S anti-communist task force on Thursday hit Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevara for standing up against communist tagging practices in the Philippines.   

Lorraine Marie T. Badoy, the task force’s spokesperson, said they “do not agree” with Mr. Guevarra’s statement that identifying members of the Maoist movement would endanger people’s lives.  

“What has grievously endangered our people is all those decades the government [has] reneged on its sacred duty, looked the other way, and refused to identify” supposed members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed and political wings, Ms. Badoy said in a statement. 

Several complaints have been filed before the Ombudsman against Ms. Badoy for allegedly using her position to spread fake news and tagging groups and personalities as reds or terrorists without basis.    

“There is nothing — nothing — that can stop us from ending what ought to have ended a very long time ago had we had a President like Rodrigo Roa Duterte,” she said, citing Mr. Duterte’s creation of the anti-communist task force. 

Mr. Guevara, who sits as a member of the task force chaired by Mr. Duterte, said complaints should be filed instead of tagging activists as communists  

“If you have evidence against them, follow the necessary legal action,” he told a virtual forum. “Stop labeling them, do whatever is necessary to prosecute them.”  

“You are endangering certain people if you do not have sufficient evidence,” he added. 

“It is possible that these individuals will become targets when they are just being vocal about their political views.” 

The Philippine government decriminalized membership in the CPP and similar associations through a law signed by former President Fidel V. Ramos in 1992. 

Mr. Duterte, however, issued a proclamation in December 2017 declaring the CPP and its armed unit, the New People’s Army, as terrorist groups.  

After signing the proclamation, he directed then Justice Secretary Vitaliano N. Aguirre II through a memorandum to file a petition with the appropriate regional trial court to legally classify the CPP and the NPA as terrorist groups under a human security act that has been updated in 2020, based on a report published by state-run Philippine News Agency. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza 

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