Following reports of red-tagging and illegal arrests in the province of Quezon, progressive groups released statements condemning the latest series of attacks.
LGBTQI+ rights group Queer Quezon criticized this as a form of harassment.
“Ang red-tagging na ginagawa ng mga militar ay isang porma ng pangha-harass sa mga mamamayan at kailangan itigil sapagkat ito ay malinaw na paglabag sa kanilang mga karapatan bilang Pilipino,” Queer Quezon said.
They called to an end to such incidents, while claiming that state agents have been fear-mongering and abusing human rights.
“Malinaw ang mga ebidensyang nagtuturo na ang militar ay patuloy na nagpapalaganap ng karahasan at takot sa mga mamamayan at pangunahing lumalabag sa mga karapatang pantao,” they added.
Anakbayan UPLB likewise condemned the increased militarized efforts during the time of the Terror Law.
“Sa ilalim ng Terror Law ni Duterte, kaliwa’t kanan na ang mga insidente ng pan-re-red-tag at pananakot na natatangap ng mga aktibista mula sa kapulisan at militar,” they said.
Furthermore, Anakbayan UPLB argued that the incidents were proof that activists were not the enemies.
“Patunay lamang ang mga insidenteng ito na hindi ang mga aktibista ang tunay na terorista, kundi ang estado at mga puwersa nito na walang habas na lumalabag sa mga karapatang pantao ng mga mamamayan,” Anakbayan UPLB said.
Among such attacks took place on September 26, Queer Quezon received a call from a former member of Bahaghari-Quezon living in Lucena City. This was after their house was visited by two military officers and three barangay tanods.
However, due to their absence at that time, the visitors talked to the mother and showed them a picture of them attending Warla, a pride event in June 2019, before supposedly interrogating them regarding their child’s current home and occupation. One of the soldiers, a Sgt. Marlon Mendoza of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Southern Luzon Command (AFP-SOLCOM), reportedly did not show any documents or warrants.
Queer Quezon said that the soldiers accused the former Bahaghari member of being a part of the New People’s Army (NPA).
“Ibinintang ng mga militar na maaaring siya ay ‘namumundok’ na kung kaya naman kailangan ‘linisin ang pangalan nito’ dahil daw sa bilang ng mga kabataang ni-rerekrut upang maging rebelde,” Queer Quezon said.
A similar incident happened to an unnamed member of the Kabataan Partylist – Quezon. Soldiers allegedly verbally threatened that something bad might happen if he did not stop being involved in progressive work. A picture of him also attending Warla was also reported to have been shown.
“Sa loob ng halos isang linggo, dalawang kaso ng red-tagging mula sa mga militar ang naitala sa probinsya ng Quezon. Ramdam nina [redacted], kasama ng kanilang mga pamilya ang pangamba at takot mula sa panggigipt at pagbabanta mula sa mga militar,” Queer Quezon said.
Since September, red-tagging posts surfaced from user “Francis Sandigan,” allegedly a Senior Police Officer 3 at the 1st Quezon Provincial Mobile Force Company. Said posts, bearing the name of the PMFC that supposedly “Sandigan” works for, invited users to join in condemning what they deemed to be communist fronts.
These propaganda posts reiterated the narrative of progressive organizations such as the League of Filipino Students (LFS), the Alliance of Concerned Students (ACS), and the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) using social media to recruit individuals into communist groups.
In a play on the viral challenge-related posts on social media, the PMFC also featured an erroneously made “red tag challenge” post that explained that those who protest and/or “waving the red flag of CPP [Communist Party of the Philippines] front organizations named by Jose Marie Sison” to be a communist sympathizer. The red flags refer to banners featuring the hammer and sickle insignia of communism.
Last September 18, Queer Quezon called attention to the arrest of nine human rights workers from Karapatan-Quezon, who were arrested by PNP San Narciso with charges of violating General Community Quarantine (GCQ) protocols. Among the nine members arrested was Karapatan’s secretary-general Genelyn Dichoso, who was being charged with alleged homicide.
After four days of being reported missing last September 22, they were revealed to be held in a covered court in San Narciso where they were waiting for a signature from a fiscal before they could be released.
Karapatan–Timog Katagalugan (TK) disclosed that the nine were arrested following their planned visit to a battle site between the NPA and the 85th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army (IBPA) to document human rights violations in the area. After encountering members of the IBPA, the Quick Response Team (QRT) was called off.
The alliance explained that although the team agreed to simply sleep overnight, they instead found themselves being charged.
“Ngunit sa hindi inaasahang pangyayari, nang sila ay magpapaalam na upang umuwi, bigla na lamang silang ayaw paalisin ng mga sundalo at nais pa umano silang dalhin sa presinto,” Karapatan-TK said.
A year under arrest
Following the one-year anniversary of her arrest, Anakbayan UPLB released a statement on September 14, calling for the release of Alex Pacalda. She is a 23-year-old activist of the peasant group Pinag-isang Lakas ng Magsasaka sa Quezon (PIGLAS-Quezon) who was abducted by the AFP in General Luna, South Quezon.
“Until now, the military refuses to release Pacalda. She is currently under the custody of the 201st Brigade in Calauag, Quezon,” the group said.
After her abduction, she was brought to the General Luna police station and was said to have been forced to sign a certificate confirming her as a surrendered NPA member. It was later revealed that she was forced to sign while allegedly being tortured mentally and deprived of sleep.
“Pacalda’s family, accompanied by CHR [Commission on Human Rights], however, is continuously demanding for her release. Despite the lack of a case against Pacalda, the military still refused to heed the family and the CHR’s request,” Anakbayan UPLB said.
Anakbayan UPLB said that Pacalda’s case was far from being the only one, with numerous other incidents being reported under the Terror Law.
“All of these are happening under Duterte’s declaration of war against activists and human rights defenders. It is a crystal-clear manifestation that Duterte, the AFP-PNP, and the ruling class masters are feared that the faces of activists like Pacalda can topple their fascist regime,” the group said. [P]
Screengrab from Francis Sandigan / Facebook