Colmenares, Makabayan bloc solons skip Senate ‘red-tagging’ probe

Makabayan bloc lawmakers and Bayan Muna chairperson Neri Colmenares skipped the Senate committee’s hearing on the alleged red-tagging being done by the military.

Senator Panfil Lacson, Senate Committee on National Defense chairperson, said the secretariat has sent an invitation to said solons through the Office of House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco last Friday.

“The letter was coursed through the Speaker of the House, considering that the Committee cannot issue the said invitation directly to individual party-list representatives in view of the inter-parliamentary courtesy existing between the two chambers,” Lacson said in his opening message.

The senator said militant groups such as Bayan Muna, Alliance of Concerned Teachers, Kabataan, Gabriela “did not confirm their attendance for still unknown reasons” despite receiving the invitation to the red-tagging hearing.

The Makabayan bloc instead sent Atty. Maneeka Sarza as its legal counsel and to represent them during the hearing. She said the lawmakers are currently attending to their respective operations for the victims of Super Typhoon Rolly.

“Ipinaaabot po na hindi ngayon sa date na ito makaka-attend ang ating mga congressmen and congresswomen. They are on separate missions,” Sarza said.

Colmenares, Makabayan bloc solons skip Senate ‘red-tagging’ probe

Bayan Muna chairperson Neri Colmenares also requested that another hearing be conducted but without the presence of military, particularly Southern Luzon Command chief Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr., Lacson said.

“The chair may have to discuss this with the members of the committee,” he said.

Earlier, Parlade revealed that Makabayan bloc members in the Congress and Colmenares are under surveillance for being “card-bearing” members of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

The Makabayan bloc then accused Parlade of red-tagging and asserted that it was the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict’s (NTF-ELCAC) way of “hitting back” at them for exposing the P19.1-billion “generals’ pork” under the task force’s budget for 2021.

Parlade serves as NTF-ELCAC’s spokesperson.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano, Armed Forces chief General Gilbert Gapay, Parlade, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, and Presidential Communications Operations Office Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy attended the red-tagging hearing in the Senate.