Another Monday night, another evening rant from our beloved President Rodrigo Duterte.
Last night Duterte vented his ire towards activist organizations and Makabayan bloc members, accusing them of being legal fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), its negotiating arm National Democratic Front (NDF), and the rebel group New People’s Army.
Similar to previous instances when he leveled accusations against his enemies, Duterte did not offer any proof to back up his allegations.
“All of them, Makabayan, Bayan [Muna]. They are all legal fronts, including Gabriela. We are not red-tagging you. We are identifying you as members in a grand conspiracy comprising all the legal fronts that they have organized, headed by the NDF and the New People’s Army and the Communist Party of the Philippines,” the president said in English and Filipino in his publicly televised speech.
He added that the Armed Forces was “correct” in alleging that the groups are communists. Southern Luzon Command chief Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr. said last month that members of the Makabayan bloc are communists because some self-proclaimed former members of the CPP said so.
“You are being identified as the members of the communist so that we know. That’s the truth. This is not just red-tagging,” the president insisted.
“There is no longer any ideology. These communists are nothing. They want to topple the government, but they are all idiots and sons of b*tches,” Duterte said.
The president then turned personal and claimed that he was more intelligent than CPP founder Jose Maria Sison, his former teacher at San Beda University. Sison has been in exile in the Netherlands since 1987, the year when peace talks between the CPP and the government then led by former President Corazon Aquino broke down. Sison and Duterte used to have a warm relationship during the early years of the president’s term. However, it turned hostile after Duterte ended the negotiations between his government and the CPP in 2019.
“Who is bright? Sison? For goodness’ sake! Let Sison face me. We can debate. What have you gotten from that ideology, communism?” Duterte said.
He also lambasted Bayan Muna party-list Representative Carlos Zarate, a member of the Makabayan bloc who has already denied that he was a CPP member. Duterte alleged, without offering proof, that the congressman was in the pocket of an unnamed industrialist.
“That Zarate…you know, I think you need money. That’s the only reason that you became a communist, to defend an oligarch. You’re not a summa cum laude. We both passed the bar [exams],” he said.
“When you talk, you make it appear that we are milking [money off] the government,” Duterte said, and added that the lawmaker reminded him of “dog’s poo.”
Human rights organization Amnesty International has urged the Duterte government to stop its widespread practice of red-tagging, saying last month that it was “vicious and at times, deadly.”
“In the prevailing context where red-tagged individuals become the targets of harassment, threats, and even killings, courts and pertinent government agencies must take concrete steps to ensure the safety and protection of these individuals,” it said in a statement.
In August, activist Zara Alvarez was shot to death by gunmen, two years after unidentified elements accused her of being a communist.