Senator Loren Legarda Defends CPP-NDF and Ideologies 'Different From the Majority'

After Senator Francis Tolentino suggested that government officials should be mandated to declare any ties to leftist organizations.
IMAGE FACEBOOK/LOREN LEGARDA

In light of the arrest of Adora Faye de Vera, the sister of Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chair Prospero de Vera, Senator Francis Tolentino proposed that government officials should declare any associations they may have with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the National Democratic Front (NDF).

Martial Law survivor Adora de Vera is accused of being a high-ranking official of the CPP and was detained in Quezon City recently. CHED Chair de Vera and the agency have distanced themselves from the spat.

"I have not seen her and I have not spoken to her for more than 25 years since she decided to rejoin the underground movement," he said in a statement. "I do not share her views nor support her actions."

Tolentino argued that officials who have relatives linked to supposed terrorist organizations may "compromise" national security.

In his privilege speech, Tolentino said: "I'm positing this legal notion to perhaps trigger the imagination of the Civil Service Commission or this Chamber. Is it now the right time that we require [government officials] to declare: Do you have a relative... who is a member of a terrorist group?"

Senators Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III and Loren Legarda, on the other hand, warned of the potential repercussions of the proposal. "Chairman Popoy de Vera did nothing wrong. He is not responsible for the actions of his sister," Pimentel noted.

Legarda, likewise, expressed concern over the attacks on ideologies that deviate from the mainstream. These comments come during an epidemic of "red-tagging" and the banning of "subversive" books in the country.

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"Believing in an ideology which may be different from the majority, in layman's term believing in philosophies that may left-center so to speak, does not make anyone subversive...  I hope that the peace talks can be revived so that we...  can work together towards peace, equity, and authentic, real reforms in the countryside," she said.

Legarda then declared: ''All I can say is that having celebrated National Heroes' Day yesterday, there are many heroes in our midst whom we see and who we do not see and know. Even heroes who may be associated with the CPP. I declare that I have worked with the NDF, and I am not ashamed of it.''

She also explained that there isn't any law or pronouncement from the government that has stated that the "CPP or similar organizations, movements, beliefs, associations" are enemies of the state. "If we see and study what they actually believe and want, it is social justice," she emphasized.

The four-time senator added: "I would not pass judgement and label certain organizations whose beliefs may be different from the general majority... When we look at it, we bear similar objectives, visions, dreams for our people.''

Legarda has been a long-time advocate of peace talks. In 1999, Legarda helped facilitate the safe releases of late General Victor Obillo, then Captain Eduardo Montealto, and then Sergeant Alpio Lozada, among others, who were then held captive by rebel groups.

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She has been consistent with her stance when it comes to the protection of detainees and political prisoners, too.

In the past, she had urged the government to ensure that the human rights and civil liberties of CPP leader Joma Sison be guarded. In 2004, she had been criticized by military officials for her alleged links to the organizations. But there were never reports linking Legarda to destabilization plots or any act against national security.

The senator has also expressed that the government needs to review the controversial Anti Terrorism Act.

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