Carvajal: Red-tagging

Orlando P. Carvajal
·2 min read

HAVING advocated in my last column for a mass movement to seek a new constitution, I must hasten to add it will be difficult to do so without being red-tagged by the military. However, it will not be entirely the military’s fault. It will partly be due to the activists’ failure to organize for distinctly non-communist and truly democratic social reforms.

Not all student activists are communists. In fact, communists, who like to call themselves “progressives,” are the minority in student activism. (They must be; otherwise, we would have been overrun by them already). Yet though a minority, they are the most organized, the most provocatively vocal and the most active. They speak with one voice from a clearly communist ideological platform and act as one under the discipline of the Communist Party-controlled National Democratic Front in pursuing their ultimate goal of overthrowing the government through armed revolution.

Lacking an umbrella organization with an openly non-communist goal of pursuing through peaceful means a new and genuine democratic constitution that would correct the injustices of the old one, violence-spurning moderate activists from left and right of center of the political spectrum become targets of either CPP-NPA recruitment or military red-tagging.

Although red-tagging is a CPP-NPA ploy to cover up its recruitment operation, it is a welcome cultural weapon oligarchs use to ward the educated and enlightened (de-colonialized?) middle class off the walls of their exclusive political and economic castles. In a predominantly Catholic hence fiercely anti-communist country, what better way for oligarchs to bring well-meaning moderate social activists down from their castle’s walls than by red-tagging them?

During Martial Law, there was a number of faith-based student groups who opposed both the dictatorship and their communist counterparts. Such were, among others, Student Catholic Action, Young Christian Workers, Chi Rho and Kalihukan Alang Sa Katarungan, the last being composed of students from Cebu’s prominent Catholic schools. They expressly rejected communism for which they were denounced by their extreme left counterparts, like the Kabataang Makabayan, as puppets of clerico-fascists. Yet, they were also red-tagged by the Marcos military.

Where are these groups now? Red-tagged into silence and inaction? In any case, in the absence of a distinctly non-communist organization of democratic social reformers the Philippine political narrative is reduced into a struggle between the extreme right (oligarchs) and the extreme left (communists). A win by either the right or left extreme will equally spell doom to the people’s dream of a genuine representative democracy.