The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) does not engage in red-tagging leftist lawmakers, President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday night, insisting that the military was actually “identifying” them as legal fronts.
In a taped speech, Duterte said the AFP is “very correct” for identifying groups like Bayan, Makabayan, and Gabriela as “legal fronts” of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).
“Itong mga legal fronts ng komunista, lahat ‘yan (These legal fronts of the communists. All of them) Makabayan, Bayan…they are all legal fronts, Gabriela. We are not red-tagging you. We are identifying you as members in a grand conspiracy comprising all the legal fronts that you have organized headed by NDF [National Democratic Front of the Philippines] tapos yung (then) New People’s Army at Communist Party of the Philippines,” he said.
Duterte said several former CPP-NPA members have openly attacked and criticized communists for the latter’s sheer brutality in this communal war.
“Communal war ito (This is communal war). There is no longer any ideology. Itong mga komunista, wala na ideology (These communists no longer have ideology),” he added.
He said the communists simply wanted to overthrow the government so that they could take over.
“Gusto lang nila umagaw ng gobyerno (They just want to grab power),” he said.
Duterte accused the legal front members, particularly Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate, of accepting money” and “defend an oligarch” but did not elaborate.
“You are friends with the NPA. You co-conspirators. Komunista ka adre, matagal na. Alam ko. Alam ko kasi alam ko (You’ve been a communist for a long time. I know. I know because I know),” he said.
He also attacked CPP-NPA founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison, saying his guerrilla-like ideology claimed the lives of many uniformed personnel.
“Anong nakuha mo diyan sa ideology na communism (What do you get from the ideology of communism)?” he said.
Duterte said indigenous communities were the most affected by atrocities committed by the CPP-NPA members.
“Ang kawawa dito itong mga pobre na taga-bukid na madadala ninyo (The ones pitiful here are the poor you convince. I think 75 percent, at least in Mindanao, mga Lumad. Kayong mga Lumad, umuwi kayo sabihin ninyo sa mga tao ninyo na niloloko lang sila ng NPA talaga. Parang namatay ang Lumad. (You lumads, go home and tell your people you’re being fooled by NPA. Lumads are being killed). So if this thing goes on, the lumads, yung native na Pilipino talaga (native Filipinos) will become an extinct tribe kung hindi kayo huminto diyan (if you don’t stop),” he said.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Nov. 3 said it would be hypocrisy for the CPP-NPA to say that they do not have legal fronts.
“Kaplastikan po ng CPP-NPA kung sasabihin nilang wala silang mga legal fronts na tinatawag (It is hypocrisy for the CPP-NPA to say that they don’t have what they call legal fronts),” he said.
In a Senate hearing last week, Zarate denied being a member of CPP-NPA and denounced the AFP’s red-tagging of the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives.
He said Bayan Muna and members of the Makabayan bloc are legitimate groups pushing for meaningful social reforms.
The CPP-NPA-NDF is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. PNA.GOV.PH