House bloc files ‘red-tagging’ complaint against military unit before Comelec

Members of the House Makabayan bloc on Wednesday filed a complaint before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) against the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) for probable violation of the Omnibus Election Code.

The bloc, which includes representatives from party-lists Anakpawis, Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Kabataan and ACT Teachers, accused CRS, the military’s front-line unit in dealing with most civilian affairs, of violating Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code for blatant red-tagging of progressive party-lists through its official Facebook page.

On its Facebook page, the bloc said AFP-CRS accused the Makabayan bloc party-lists as “House fronts” of the Communist Party of the Philippines, National Democratic Front of the Philippines, New People’s Army (CPP-NDFP-NPA), together with a social-media poster of quotations from a certain Dario Bolivar of Liga Independencia Pilipina.

According to the complaint, the act allegedly violated Section 261 of election code which prohibits (d) coercion of subordinates, (e) threats, intimidation, terrorism, use of fraudulent device or other forms of coercion, (i) partisan political activity or intervention of public officers and employees in elections and (o) use of public funds and resources for an election campaign.

“The Armed Forces of the Philippines and its Civil Relations Service have been publicly red-baiting and maliciously labeling the Makabayan progressive party-lists and its senatoriable Neri Colmenares as ‘legal fronts’ of the CPP-NPA,” ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio said.

According to Tinio, the official Facebook page of the Civil Relations Service of the AFP have been posting and circulating e-posters and memes that against the Makabayan bloc.

“Posting and circulating online materials that are damaging, dangerous and outright lies that sabotages the legitimate campaign of the party-list for salary increase and for the welfare of teachers and using their official Facebook pages are violations of the Omnibus Election Code for participating in partisan political activity and use of public funds and equipment and facilities for an election campaign,” he added.

ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro said the online posts of the official pages and accounts of the AFP and the CRS endanger the lives and safety of our officials, members, campaign personnel and the sector the groups represent.

“By tagging us as House fronts and terrorists, the military and the police paint us as valid targets for their counterinsurgency activities. ACT Teachers party-list, the other Makabayan group of progressive party-lists and senatoriable Neri Colmenares are not terrorist groups and individuals,” she said.

“Who are really involved in terrorist attacks against poor and marginalized people? Who are involved in criminal act against civilians? State forces have long been terrorizing the Filipino people for fighting for their rights to land, adequate wages and social services,” Castro added.

Gabriela Rep. Emmi de Jesus emphasized that red-tagging, be it offline or online, constitutes a grave threat to activists.

With Samuel P. Medenilla

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