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Lawmakers Accuse AFP and DepEd of Red-Tagging Near Rizal School

Two lawmakers from the House of Representatives Makabayan bloc have accused an Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) battalion and the Department of Education (DepEd) of involvement in red-tagging activities near a school in Rizal province.

ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro and Kabataan party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel have brought to light the distribution of pamphlets near Taytay Senior High School, which they claim labels “students and youth as terrorists for opposing the government’s policies, especially Charter change and freedom for political prisoners.”

Castro vehemently condemned the incident, citing a recent Supreme Court ruling recognizing the dangers of red-tagging. She labeled it as a clear case of harassment and intimidation of the youth, accusing the military, DepEd, and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) of spreading disinformation and terrorizing students.

“We urge Congress to expedite measures banning red-tagging and punishing those who engage in this heinous activity,” Castro asserted, emphasizing the need for the government to prioritize quality education and youth protection over disseminating fear and misinformation.

Meanwhile, Manuel highlighted the contradiction between the supposed red-tagging incident in Rizal and President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s denial of government involvement in such activities. He criticized the administration’s tendency to label dissenters as terrorists, noting the misuse of public funds for red-tagging and terror-tagging initiatives.

In response to these allegations, NTF-Elcac issued a statement refuting claims of red-tagging. The pamphlets distributed near the school did not characterize rallyists as terrorists. Instead, they focused on informing students about the recruitment tactics of the NPA, the armed wing of the CPP.

The task force clarified that the seminar conducted by the 80th Infantry Battalion aimed at raising awareness about national security threats and promoting patriotism among youth. They denied targeting any specific organization, asserting that the seminar provided factual information to help students make informed decisions about their involvement in CPP-NPA activities.

Despite NTF-Elcac’s rebuttal, Castro and Manuel remain firm in their stance against what they perceive as misinformation threatening democratic institutions. They pledge to continue fighting for the rights of students and people affected by red-tagging activities.

“The recent incident in Rizal is a clear example of the dangers of red-tagging. It is a threat not only to our youth but also to our democracy,” Castro asserted. Manuel echoed her sentiments, vowing to explore legal avenues to investigate the matter and hold those accountable for spreading misinformation.