Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan, Vice President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), has expressed concerns about the surge in red-tagging incidents in the country.
In a virtual press conference on Thursday, January 28, Bishop David said that the rising trend in red-tagging those who voice out their opposition to the government is becoming “worrisome,” as it reminds us of the Martial Law era when the masses were silenced by the Marcos regime. (Read: 5 Religious People Who Were Detained in Their Fight for Human Rights)
“I think there is a reason for people to be afraid when that becomes a trend,” the bishop said. “It sort of brings back to memory the times when we were under authoritarian rule. We are in a democracy. In a healthy democracy, it is good to question policies like this,” he said.
According to Bishop David, the ongoing issues about red-tagging are exactly the reasons why the CBCP strongly opposed the passing of the controversial Anti-Terror Law. (Read: Church Leaders Unite To Take Stand Against Anti-Terrorism Law)
“It is the fear of the exaggerated response to the move to address terrorism that might compromise human rights of people,” he said.
The Bishop also belied the allegations that some Catholic universities — the Ateneo de Manila University, University of Sto. Tomas, De La Salle University, Ateneo De Naga University, and Holy Angel University — are harboring communist rebels. (Read: 3 Times UP Was Red-Tagged and Called ‘Bayaran’ This Year)
“It was really ridiculous,” said Bishop David. “We are glad that these universities banded together and came out with a collective statement in order to question that kind of red-tagging.”
Catholic Schools on Red-Tagging
In response to the military’s accusations that some of its member schools are being used as “breeding grounds” for communism, the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) reminded the government that it is their primary responsibility to help the poor.
“We encourage the government to address the roots of the problem of insurgency, like poverty and marginalization,” the CEAP said.
The group also assured the government that its member schools are not capable of supporting an armed struggle as they are committed to nation-building through peaceful and non-violent means. (Read: Recalling the Highlights of the EDSA People Power Revolution)
“We remain committed to living out our Catholic principles of respect for human life and liberties, and promotion of social justice and peaceful social transformation,” the CEAP said.
“We continue to promote our Constitutionally-guaranteed basic human rights of free speech, expression, and association.”