De Lima deplores red-tagging of Zambales lawyer


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has bewailed the red-tagging of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Zambales Chapter member Atty. Carlos Castillo Jr. by a certain Facebook page named “Lakbay Kapayapaan.”

De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, lamented how the rampant harassment of professionals, especially justice and truth seekers, are motivated by the continued red-tagging activities of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

“I join the legal community in condemning the red-tagging of fellow lawyer, Atty. Carlos Castillo, Jr. of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)-Zambales Chapter. For responding to the call for urgent legal assistance of arrested youth activists, Atty. Castillo is now being called a terrorist. A death sentence for anyone who is considered an enemy of the State,” she said in her Dispatch No. 1,070.

“Goaded by the NTF-ELCAC, the vilification and harassment of those who stand for truth and justice continues.  A threat to our lives and our practice of the legal profession also imperils the lives and future of those who seek legal recourse, especially the poor,” she added.

Last May 10, a Facebook post on Lakbay Kapayapaan entitled “WAG NA LANG MAG-ABOGADO KUNG TERORISTA ANG TUTULUNGAN MO!!!” shows a video of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison edited alongside a photo of Castillo.     

In the said video, Sison expressed his support for the League of Filipino Students (LSF). “Gawin ang lahat ng magagawa para ibayong lumakas ang LFS, ang masa ng mga estudyante at sambayanang Pilipino para sumulong at magtagumpay ang pambansang demokrasya, Mabuhay ang League of Filipino Students. Palakasin ang LFS at ibagsak ang rehimeng US-Duterte,” said Sison in the video.

It may be recalled that “Zambales 11” members of the LFS were reportedly arrested as they were on their way to the Labor Day rally at Angeles City in Pampanga last May 1. Police officers flagged down their 15-seater van at a checkpoint due to alleged violation of physical distancing protocol.

Castillo served as the legal counsel of “Zambales 11” students when they underwent inquest investigation after such arrest.

Amid the recent incident and the unrelenting red-tagging in the country, De Lima urged her Senate colleagues to urgently act on the immediate passage of Senate Bill No. 2121 which seeks to criminalize red-tagging; and on her proposed Senate Resolution No. 689, to enact measures that would secure the safety and welfare of professionals serving the people and fighting against injustice in the Philippines.

“The government’s response to our call for government aid and efficient health programs amid the pandemic is red-tagging and more red-tagging. This must stop,” she said.

“End red-tagging! Defund NTF-ELCAC! Ibalik ang hustisya!,” added De Lima, the most prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime. (30)

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