Karapatan group files complaint vs gov’t officials for red-tagging

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 4, 2020   •   608

MANILA, Philippines – Karapatan group has filed a complaint to the Office of the Ombudsman against government officials for red-tagging.

The human rights group on Friday (December 4) filed cases against the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) officials led by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon.

 The group said they also filed cases against NTF-ELCAC ex-officio member Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr., Strategic Communications Cluster spokesperson Lorraine Badoy, and Deputy Executive Director Margaux “Mocha” Uson of the Overseas Workers and Welfare Administration.

Karapatan lawyer Atty. Josalee Deinla said the government officials have repeatedly linked the group to the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Mayroon tayong tinatawag na prinsipyo sa international humanitarian law. Hindi tinutiring na combantant ang mga sibilyan na kagaya nila. Sila ay mga unarmed activists at miyembro ng legal at above ground organizations (We have the principle in the international humanitarian law which states that civilians like them should not be considered as combatants. They are unarmed activists and members of a legal and above ground organization),” she said.

Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay reiterated they are human rights defenders and are not combatants. She also said that the red-tagging has endangered their lives.

“By tagging us as front organization, myself as a high supposedly a high ranking member of the CPP and NPA they are committing offenses under the said law,” she said. AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

Esperon assures following Duterte’s orders in defending West PH Sea

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — National Security Adviser and Chairman of the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea Sec. Hermogenes Esperon said they will follow President Rodrigo Duterte’s orders in defending the West Philippine Sea.

The President previously said that he will not back down and will not order the retreat of the two vessels that the country deployed in patrolling the Kalayaan Islands and the Mischief Reef.

“Hindi talaga ako aatras. Patayin mo man ako kung patayin mo ako, dito ako. Dito magtatapos ang ating pagkakaibigan,” he said during a public address.

(I will not back down. Kill me, I will be here. This is where our friendship ends.)

In a separate interview in Politiscoop, Esperon said they are prepared to follow the President’s orders which includes deploying military ships in case there is an excavation of natural gas in the disputed islands.

“May utos na po ang pangulo natin diyan. Alam na natin gagawin diyan,” he said.

(The President has a directive. We already know what to do.)

Esperon also noted that the country is using satellite technology to monitor unauthorized sea vessels entering the country’s territory.

He added that the task force, in coordination with the Philippine Space Agency, aims to boost the country’s satellite technology.

“Actually mayroon tayong nova satellite diyan run by the Philippine Space Agency at pinapalawig pa natin ang ating kakayahan tungkol sa satellite. For now ang ginagamit na ay ang flight maritime patrols, sovereign patrols ng Air Force ng navy,” he said.

(Actually, we have a nova satellite run by the Philippine Space Agency and we are still expanding our capability with regards to the satellite. For now, we are using flight maritime patrols, the sovereign patrols of the Air Force.)

Amid the tension between the disputed islands, the President reiterated that the country is avoiding any conflict in the region. But he said that China should still respect the country’s position on the issue. AAC (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

NTF-ELCAC retains Parlade and Badoy as spokespersons, taps 6 more

Robie de Guzman   •   May 10, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) on Monday announced it has added more spokespersons to communicate its position on various matters to the public.

In an online press briefing, NTF-ELCAC vice chairperson and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said that the body will now have a total of eight spokespersons in a bid to “effectively communicate transparency and accountability” in its efforts.

Esperon identified the following as the task force’s spokespersons and their primary coverage:

  • Antonio Parlade Jr. (Security sector operations)
  • Presidential Communications Operations Office Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy (social media affairs, sectoral concerns)
  • Department of the Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya (local government affairs, barangay development program, international engagement)
  • Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat Undersecretary Severo Catura (international affairs, peace process, human rights concerns)
  • Presidential Task Force on Media Security executive director Jose Joel Sy Egco (mass media engagements, fact-checker)
  • Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Assistant Secretary Celine Pialago (NTF-ELCAC public affairs and information, youth concerns)
  • Marlon Bosantog (legal affairs indigenous peoples concerns)
  • Gaye Florendo (assistant spokesperson on NTF-ELCAC public affairs and on indigenous peoples concerns)

“These eight spokespersons come from different agencies of government. The designation of officials under the expanded pool of spokespersons allows for a focused discourse and engagement with the public on each spokesperson’s respective thematic coverage,” Esperon said.

The NTF-ELCAC’s announcement comes after Parlade and Badoy were criticized for their statements on some community pantry organizers and their possible link to the communist movement.

“The CPP-NPA is a multi-faceted, multilayered (organization)… Joma Sison has already told us that they have underground mass organizations that actually control or infiltrate the good organizations or control organizations that they have actually organized,” Esperon said when asked to explain the need to strengthen the task force’s communication system.

“Just like the NPA, we have to cover everything,” he added

Esperon also said that all departments at the national and local levels, as well as regional and provincial task forces of the NTF-ELCAC, shall be appointing their spokespersons for matters related to the task force “in the interest of harmonizing public information and communications activities.”

“The National Task Force is composed of practically all agencies of government. We are just drawing the support and pool of talents from all government agencies,” he said.

Health workers group tagged as communist front asks help from Duterte

Marje Pelayo   •   May 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) was linked to the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in an article written by Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy on April 7.

Badoy, who is also the Spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Conflict, claimed that the AHW is being used by the communist group to be able to penetrate health facilities in the country including the Philippine General Hospital.

According to the group’s president Robert Mendoza, even he himself is being linked by Badoy to the communist rebels.

Mendoza said they are appealing to President Rodrigo Duterte to back them up to clear their names because they fear for their safety being red-tagged and their morale is hugely affected.

“Kasi kami na nga lang natitira ngayon na humaharap sa pandemyang ito at bakit ireredtag ang mga health workers, in fact, mga government employees kami lahat,” Mendoza said.

The same goes for Filipino Nurses United who is being linked to the NPA by a certain social media post.

The group said instead of insisting on baseless accusations, what the government should address is the distribution of performance-based bonuses of health workers from 2018 to 2020 which they haven’t received until now.

The group also calls on the government to expedite and complete the processing of various benefits such as the special risk allowance and hazard pay under Bayanihan 2.

“Sana yung active hazard duty pay ay gawing 5,000 pesos at yung special risk allowance ay gawing 15,000 pesos para sa lahat ng health workers kada month and hindi lang doon sa covid ward at nasa direct patient,” insisted FNU Secretary General Jocelyn Andamo.

The Health Department, for its part, assures that aside from the protection of health workers, it is doing its best to provide the best compensation for health workers.

“Nabayaran natin at naibigay natin sa mga facilities iyong mga dapat ibayad sa health workers hanggang sa dulo of 2020. Isa iyan sa kanilang mga complaints dahil may mga health workers na hanggang sa ngayon hindi pa nakukumpleto iyong kanilang mga benepisyo noong last year pa noong December 2020,” noted Health Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire. -MNP (with reports from Dante Amento)


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