Is speaking about women’s struggles now a punishable act?
In the past few days, a number of red-tagging posts were made against Liza Soberano on the internet after she spoke up about women’s issues at a Gabriela Youth webinar on Oct. 13. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) official and National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) spokesperson Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. said in response through a statement posted on Facebook, “Let us not red-tag Liza Soberano. It’s not fair to her. She is merely supporting advocacy for women’s rights. She has to be protected in the exercise of her rights. Is she an NPA? No, of course not. Not yet.” However, even though he says not to red-tag her, the following part of the post does exactly that.
“Liza Soberano, there’s still a chance to abdicate that group. If you don’t, you will suffer the same fate as Josephine Anne Lapira, former deputy secretary-general of Gabriela Youth of UP Manila and defender of women’s rights,” he warned. “The choice is yours, Liza. And so with you, Catriona. Don’t follow the path Ka Ella Colmenares (Locsin) took in the underground and NPA Quezon. I am sure Angel Locsin and Neri Colmenares will not tell you this.” Both Catriona Gray and Angel Locsin have also spoken about women’s issues. In the past, Locsin has also criticized the Philippine National Police (PNP) of red-tagging former senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares, her nephew.
It’s chilling that a government official would make these public claims under the Duterte administration. While Lt. Gen. Parlade denied supporting the trolls who red-tagged Soberano, his threatening remarks and declaration that she might become a member of the New People’s Army (NPA) have the hallmarks of red-tagging.
Red-tagging, known in other countries as red-baiting, is a political tactic in the Philippines that Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen cited and defined in his dissenting opinion in the Zarate vs. Aquino III case as “the act of labelling, branding, naming and accusing individuals and/ or organizations of being left-leaning, subversives, communists or terrorists (used as) a strategy…by State agents, particularly law enforcement agencies and the military, against those perceived to be ‘threats’ or ‘enemies of the State.’”
“By saying that Soberano is ‘not yet an NPA,’ he is maliciously associating the actress with the armed movement when what she did in the youth forum was to only speak up for all the victims of gender-based violence and abuse,” said Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas in a statement posted on Twitter. “How come these macho-fascists have the audacity to mansplain strong women and lecture them on what to do? And why do they seem so afraid of women using their platform to defend other women?”
During the webinar, the actress stated that while women and influencers must contribute to spreading awareness about women’s issues, “change cannot be the sole responsibility of the people who need it the most.”
Liza Soberano, young woman influencer and actress, highlighted the injustices that women are forced to face everyday, as well as the significance of speaking up to raise awareness, especially when done by those who have influence over many. pic.twitter.com/kg3b675Akr