Zarate confronts Guevarra on red-tagging issue

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 18) – Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate confronted the Department of Justice (DOJ) over a report posted on its website tagging several party-lists as founded by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Zarate read part of the 2020 Philippine Human Rights Situationer stating that, “In Congress, three resolutions were filed by known CPP-created party-lists, namely, Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela, and the Alliance of Concerned Teachers…”

"We are legally registered party, nagkaroon kami ng Kongreso in 2000/1999 and we were duly elected by our constituencies," Zarate said.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, who led the department in defending its budget for 2021, said he was not aware of the statement in the report.

"We have taken due note of the concern of Cong. Zarate and we would like to assure him that insofar as the DOJ is concerned ay wala naman kaming ginagawang ganong parang policy ng red-tagging or something like that,” Guevarra noted.

[Translation: "We have taken due note of the concern of Cong. Zarate and we would like to assure him that insofar as the DOJ is concerned, we don't have any policy of red-tagging or something like that.]

The justice chief pointed out that the DOJ sticks to its mandate in resolving cases based on evidence.

DOJ spokesperson Markk Perete explained that the department's participation in the report is only limited to Administrative Order (AO) 35 mechanism.

AO 35 created the inter-agency committee on extra-legal killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other grave violations of the right to life, liberty and security of persons.

“We would like to reiterate that in fact there is no such policy against progressive groups or even those which have been mentioned in the report,” Perete said.

Guevarra also cited the DOJ’s work in conducting investigation in cases of slain members of advocacy groups.

“Kahit wala pong nagsasabi sa amin pursuant to Administrative Order No. 35… Kami naman po ay masigasig sa paggawa ng ganung tungkulin ng DOJ as chair of that AO35 committee."

[Translation: Even if no one's telling us, pursuant to Administrative Order No. 35...We are actively fulfilling the duty of DOJ as chair of that AO35 committee.]

Asked if the DOJ will take down the report, Guevarra said he will take another look at it.

“We will issue an appropriate statement if necessary," he said.