Former Bayan Muna Party-list Representative Teddy Casiño, current Bayan Muna Party-list Carlos Zarate and Bayan Muna Chair Atty. Neri Colmenares take their oath before the start of the Senate committee hearing on the government’s red-tagging of lawmakers and celebrities. (screengrab from Senate committee hearing YouTube video)

Bayan Muna Party List Representative Carlos Zarate and his partymate former Congressman Teodoro Casino insist that they do not consider the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army and National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF) as “enemies” even though they do not agree with the way “they are pushing for their agenda.”

This was after Senator Panfilo M. Lacson, chairman of the Senate national defense and security committee, asked them during the committee hearing, if they are willing to consider anyone who has joined the NPA as enemies of the state.

Casiño said that he could not consider members of the CPP/NPA/NDF as enemies as they are revolutionary groups like members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) that government must always be open to dialogue with.

“They are revolutionary groups. We may not agree with their program, we may not agree with the way that they are pushing for their agenda but our attitude toward them is engage,” Casiño said.

Zarate said that communist rebels took up arms in search for justice stressing that “there’s a social reason for that.” He thumbed down suggestions to immediately label the rebel groups as enemies as this, according to him, effectively closes the doors on any dialogue for peace.

“Outrightly condemning them is akin to denying the existence of the roots of the armed conflict in our country. Condemning them would only shut the doors for political settlement,” he said.

However, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) Director General Alex Monteagudo stressed that the NPA is a terrorist organization and that anyone who refuses to condemn the group could be considered as consenting its activities.

The Senate called for a hearing on the red-tagging of the government on certain politicians and celebrities.

Lacson said he cannot understand how a government official, such as Zarate, who gets a salary from the government yet does not even denounce atrocities by the NPA and its “armed struggle.”

“We are not talking of protest rallies. This is different. This is an armed struggle where NPAs kill policemen, soldiers and civilians, and even former members who wanted to return to mainstream society,” Lacson said.

“You belong to government. The government is your employer. You are a member of the same government the NPAs are planning to overthrow through armed struggle,” he added in an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel.

He made the similar observation on a tweet Tuesday evening.

“Senate red-tagging inquiry: Will somebody help explain the logic of some members of Congress publicly condoning the New People’s Army that has been waging a protracted armed guerrilla warfare against the same government that employs them?” he said in a post on his Twitter account Tuesday evening.



Lacson said his committee will study the possibility of inviting Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison to take part in the next Senate hearing on red-tagging.

“We will have to look into it first since he is out of the Philippines’ jurisdiction and his testimony may not have any probative value even in a legislative inquiry,” he said.

Lacson said Sison is the “original red-tagger, based on a 1987 video shown by the NICA where the CPP founding chair made a “roll call” of organizations allied with him.

“So ang original red-tagger is Joma Sison himself,” Lacson said.

On the other hand, he said the military has denied red tagging, and presented some rebel returnees who gave their personal accounts, who he said “sounded very credible to me at least as chairman because I was there.”

One of the alleged former rebels who testified in the hearing was Joy James Saguino alias “Amihan.”  He said he operated in the rebel group in various capacities, including as guerilla front secretary for the Davao region.

Saguino said he personally met Kabataan party-list Rep. Sara Elago Elago when the lawmaker met and coordinated with local CPP-NPA-NDF leaders in Cotabato and Compostella Valley (now Davao de Oro) some years back.

“There was no way for Sarah to deny, she needed to coordinate with the (CPP/NPA/NDF), with us, to visit,” Saguino said, who added that he used to be an organizer of the Anakbayan and Kabataan party-lists before being sworn in as a full-fledged member of the CPP/NPA/NDF.

Saguino said that shortly he was directed to organize groups to campaign for Casiños’s senatorial bid in 2012.

Elago along with Zarate, Casiño and Bayan Muna chairman Neri Colmenares who attended the hearing denied being members or recruiters of the CPP/NPA/NDF.

Also present during the hearing are some of their accusers, including National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. and other members of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).  Rommel F. Lopez