March 15, 2022
Last March 14, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief General Dionardo Carlos said they will investigate the involvement of “communist rebels” in proclamation rallies during the campaign period. This came after Senator and Presidential aspirant Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson’s accusation that the opposition is bound to establish a “coalition government” with the revolutionary movement led by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA). Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, later on, warned that he “cannot assure” peaceful elections due to “terrorist threats”.
“The excessive security-mongering by the current administration, especially coming from the President himself, is worrisome,” said Council for People’s Development and Governance (CPDG) spokesperson Liza Maza.
Maza underscored that such speech creates a condition for fear and intimidation which can affect the liberty and free will of voters, come the May 9 polls.
“Redtagging is already being castigated as it entails danger to vilified individuals and organizations,” Maza further adds, saying “the situation is akin to Marcos’ propaganda before Martial Law was declared in 1972”.
Article 22, Section 261 E. of the Omnibus Election Code states that “threats and intimidation” or “other forms of coercion” are punishable by law. Thus, civil society organizations expressed indignation over the continuous redtagging of electoral candidates, partylist groups, and their supporters by different public entities. Even retired COMELEC Commissioner Guanzon hit Lacson and Cavite Rep. Boying Remulla for such accusations against the opposition and their supporters.
“Such unfounded accusations cause undue fear and intimidation on voters participating in campaign sorties of their chosen candidates. We all know repression will intensify on the pretext of public safety and security. Our rights will be curtailed even more, as they have done during the past two years of the pandemic. In a political context, this may be used to erode support for the opposition,” Maza pointed out.
Redtagging and vilification have been criticized by the UN Human Rights Council and one of the resolutions laid out on October 7, 2020 is to investigate serious human rights violations including extra-judicial killings (EJKs) which usually follows after rights defenders and activists have been red-tagged or vilified by state forces.
CPDG calls on the government to halt all its malicious propaganda and ensure the sanctity and democracy of free elections. “Any effort to manipulate or subvert the will of the people is a setback to our democracy. We should not allow this to happen. We call on all freedom-loving Filipinos and civil society to continue pushing back and asserting their democratic rights. ” Maza ended. #