Red-tagging of students and book publisher after elections

Students and activist groups protested against the elected Marcos-Duterte tandem and the voting process itself during demonstrations held shortly after election day. One of several nationwide demonstrations took place outside of the Philippine Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in Manila on May 10, 2022, the day after the election.

A wave of “red-tagging” – meaning the false accusation to be a supporter of the communist insurgency – followed. The “National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict” (NTF-ELCAC) labeled students as disruptors and destabilizers. National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon also  claimed that the state-run University of the Philippines (UP) provides an ideal breeding ground for the recruitment for the communist New People’s Army (NPA). On May 13, 2022, the UP President’s Advisory Council released a statement wherein they rejected the allegations as ‘baseless and paranoid’ while stressing the need for critical and free thinking in its educational institutions. ‘We will not stand down when our students’ lives are at risk. We will continue to defend our academic spaces,’ the UP said in its statement. Already a day earlier, UP Visayas released a statement on ”red-tagging” in social media, stating that these recent comments ‘compromise [our students] security and instill fear’. Various student councils also set up help desks for affected individuals.

Adarna House, a publisher of Filipino children’s books, was also affected by red-tagging. Shortly after the election, it offered a collection of illustrated children’s books on dictatorships and martial law during the Marcos dictatorship for pre-sale. Director-General Alex Monteagudo from the “National Intelligence Coordinating Agency” asserted in a Facebook post: ‘This is how the CPP/NPA/NDP radicalize not just our youth, but our children.’ In a statement, the human rights group Karapatan defended the Adarna House. In this regard, Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay commented on Marcos’ recent announcement to appoint Sara Duterte-Carpio head of the education department: This ‘is expected to bring a tsunami of further fake news and disinformation — if not censorship — on the realities in contemporary Philippine history, especially during the Marcos Sr. and Duterte Sr. regimes’.

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