DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Members of Makabayan bloc filed on Wednesday, April 17, an election-related complaint against the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for online electioneering and red-tagging.
According to ACT Teachers party-list representative Antonio Tinio, the AFP and it’s Civil Relations Service has been “publicly red-baiting and maliciously labeling the Makabayan progressive party-lists and its senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares as ‘legal fronts’ of the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army).”
The Makabayan complained that the official Facebook page of AFP-Civil Relations Service has been involved in posting e-posters and memes campaigning against the Makabayan bloc, with quotations from a certain Dario Bolivar of Liga Independencia Pilipina, believed to be an anti-communist group.
Tinio underscored what the military is doing is a violation of the Omnibus Election Code.
“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,” Tinio added.
In their complaint filed before the Commission on Elections (Comelec), they pointed out that the acts of the military “blatantly” violate Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code which prohibit: (d) Coercion of subordinates, (e) Threats, intimidation, terrorism, use of a 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.
Meanwhile, ACT Teachers representative France Castro feared that red tagging the Makabayan bloc would endanger the lives and safety of their officials, members, campaign personnel and the sector they represent.
“By tagging us as ‘House Fronts’ and terrorists, the military and the police paint us as valid targets for their counter-insurgency activities. ACT Teachers Party-list, the other Makabayan group of progressive Party-lists and senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares are not terrorist groups and individuals. We are organizations forwarding policies that promote the rights and welfare of our sectors,” Castro said.
Representative Emmi de Jesus of Gabriela Women’s Party-list, in a separate statement, said, “What this tells us is that public funds and government personnel are being used for a partisan political activity which is against our election laws,”
De Jesus urged the Comelec to probe “if the AFP is behind Liga Independencia Pilipina and if public funds are going to this group.”
Red-tagging, done whether offline or online, constitutes a grave threat, Gabriela emphasized.
The women’s party-list added that massive campaigning against them and other Makabayan candidates “speaks of the Duterte regime’s desperation to kick out the genuine opposition in Congress to install a full-blown dictatorship.”
“The state forces’ gross abuse of power under Duterte further justifies the need to elect dissenting voices in Congress,” De Jesus said. (davaotoday.com)