Originally posted on Facebook last Jan. 27, 2010.

This article is in response to Ms. Aryanna Canacan’s inquiry as to whether I have any articles regarding the practice of ‘red tagging’.

Let us take two youth groups which are regularly “red-tagged”: the Anakbayan and the League of Filipino Students. They are officially under the BAYAN (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan). They are also official members of the ASA (Asia-Pacific Youth and Students Association), as well as a slew of other cause-oriented alliances.

Not once in their constitutions and organization orientations can one find a mention of it being a member, or in any other way related, to the Communist Party of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front (much less the New People’s Army). And vice versa.

“Ideas are bulletproof “- V

Those who make such accusations usually base their charges on the observation that the these groups and individuals share political beliefs.

So what do we make of Albert Einstein, who wrote “Why Socialism”, a book advocating socialism as a solution to mankind’s problems? How about the late Senator Claro M. Recto who advocated land reform and nationalization of our industries? How about the late Senator Wigberto Tañada who is the founding chairperson of BAYAN? Or the late Senator Ninoy Aquino who wrote articles sympathetic to the New People’s Army during the late Sixties? And of course, how about national hero Andres Bonifacio who made confiscating the friars’ landed estates a battlecry of 1896?

Whenever and wherever there is a clash between the ideas of progress and the status quo, the latter resorts to calling the latter “subversive”, “communist”, “terrorist”, etc. This is “red-tagging”.

The calls and demands of the red-tagged groups, and the ideas which they are based on, represent ‘injustices’: There are things that are incorrect in society, and there are demands for these to be corrected.

In the meantime, they represent a ‘threat’ to those who are in power, to the status quo. The status quo is unable to address the problem. For example, real land reform has never been achieved in our country, from dictatorial Marcos to the hyped-up Aquino, from the elder Macapagal to his daughter. Because the status quo is unable to solve the problems, it views the demands as threats to their legitimacy rather than problems to be solved.

People are naturally drawn to the correction of wrong. That is why the status quo has to terrify them into letting go of their demands. Like children who are hyper-active and naturally curious, many parents physically punish them until they traumatized enough to cease being hyper-active and curious.

Bullets’ proof

Here in the Philippines, red-tagging goes beyond its usual aim of ‘scolding’ the ‘hyper-active’ masa. The Armed Forces of the Philippines actually uses ‘red-tagging’ as part of its campaign to physically eliminate the so-called national-democratic movement, the biggest and most-organized political force against the ruling administration.

There is a direct correlation between ‘red-tagging’ and extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances. The organizations who have been target of the most accusations are also the organizations with the biggest body counts: among partylist groups, Bayan Muna has more than a hundred slain members and leaders. Among peoples’ organizations, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas is in first place with more than five hundred.

When the killings and abductions do occur, the military (or at least their official spokesperson) is quick to deny their involvement. The denial is covered by the mainstream media. What is almost always not given attention to is the ‘vilification’ campaign against the victim that preceded his/her abduction or assassination.

The other way around

Another basis for the charges made by “red taggers” is the fact that many members of the “red-tagged” groups become members of the New People’s Army. The latest examples of this phenomenon are UP students Ian Dorado and Tania Domingo, UPLB student Ian Maderazo, and MSU student Kimay Luna.

Of all the people, it is a former U.S president who makes the most apt explanation of this:

“Those who make peaceful change impossible, makes violent revolution inevitable” – John F. Kennedy

Many events in our history serve as proofs to the claim that ‘peaceful change is impossible’. The Spanish executed Jose Rizal, an advocate of peaceful change. The US Armed Forces executed several squadrons of the HUKBALAHAP after WW2. Marcos declared Martial Law in response to the growing nationalist movement then. And no real social change can be felt two decades after EDSA.

The content

Finally, let me share a short passage from the most celebrated work of Pulitzer Prize-winner Steinbeck:

Farmworker: “What’s a red?”
Boss: “A red is any goddamned son-of-a-bitch who wants 30 cents when we’re giving 25 (daily wages)”.
Farmworker: “I’m not a son of a bitch, but I sure as hell want 30 cents. And that goes for everyone one of us here”

We should strive to study what the “reds” are saying critically and without biases. You’d be surprised to find that almost everyone of us, as shown by the passage, are actually “reds”.

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