June 20, 2024

Red-tagging is a state policy vs mass movements

We welcome the response of one Mikael Soriano, youth representative of the Nagkakaisang Samahan para sa Kapayapaan at Kaunlaran, to the statement by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) about the red-tagging seminar initiated by the government at Philippine Science High School (and Benguet State University) recently.
We believe we should have more youth and students actively engaged in the public affairs of our communities.
In the interest of clarification and deepening the discourse on human rights and social development, we would like to raise the following points to the letter-sender and to the public.
The term “red-tagging” did not just surface this 2018 with the creation of National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac). It is not an alibi used by people’s organizations and non-government organizations working for peace based on social justice. Historical narratives attest to the prevalence of anti-communist hysteria and “red-tagging” since the 19th century and its roots lie in the class interests of those who benefit from this unequal social situation to maintain the status quo.
“Red-tagging” has always been a State policy; it has changed names, but the aim remains the same – vilify mass organizations working for peace and social justice to condition public opinion before state terror is unleashed upon them.
We are deeply saddened the letter-sender, to no fault of your own, fell for the NTF-Elcac’s cry hook, line, and sinker. But we understand.
What differentiates people’s organizations and NGOs from the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines is that the latter advocates for social change through armed revolution, a people’s war.
The former, of which ACT is a part of, advocates for social transformation through the parliamentary road to power. But why shared goals and aspirations, you might ask? Precisely because we are still facing the same social ills of widespread poverty, inequality, authoritarian rule, and state terrorism.
Our schools should remain zones of peace and spaces where students can freely explore ideas, share diverging viewpoints, and develop critical thinking. But this freedom should not be a warrant for wanton disregard of human rights. That is why we urge administrators and faculty members to keep our students from these unwanted influences from State security forces that only seek to muddle, instead of clarify for the people the fundamental issues and problems we are facing as a society, not to mention the threats and coercion that they carry with it.
We are optimistic that these points clarified the concerns you raised. We welcome additional concerns and questions and hopefully, you and the public can join us in our coming campaigns and discussions. Let us remain open to alternative viewpoints and public discourses instead of resorting to tired and trite statements. — RUEL D. CARICATIVO, regional coordinator, ACT-Cordillera