Gabriela, women’s groups slam fake election tarps planted in alleged red-tagging spree

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Women’s advocacy group and party-list Gabriela condemned bogus election paraphernalia, allegedly planted by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Criminal Investigation Detection Group (CIDG), in an effort the group called “a desperate attempt to red-tag (Gabriela and other progressive groups).”

The dead giveaway? A typographical error of the word “babae” (Filipino for woman) in the group’s slogan, spelled as “babe.”

Earlier local reports surfaced that the PNP and CIDG arrested supposed members of communist groups Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army, and the National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), and found cash and explosives in their possession. They reportedly also unearthed supposed election paraphernalia—including banners, stickers, and T-shirts—representing Gabriela and Bayan Muna. Both are legitimate partylists elected to Congress and belong to the Makabayan bloc, a progressive coalition in the House of Representatives.

Gabriela denied that any election materials with the misspelled slogan were theirs.

“We categorically disown the tarpaulins with the slogan ‘Para sa Babe, Bata at Bayan,’ as such slogan digresses from our original slogan ‘Para sa Babae, Bata at Bayan,'” the women’s group wrote on Facebook.

“Maybe the police officers have been so accustomed to using ‘babe’ in their flirtatious relations with several women, or they were rushing to print the fake tarps ahead of our own printing without diligent proofreading,” Gabriela added, calling the PNP and CIDG’s actions a “desperate attempt” at red-tagging the group.

“Being professional in planting evidence and peddling disinformation, the PNP and CIDG elements has once again conducted black propaganda tactics against progressive electoral groups,” Girls For Peace, a campaign network for young women, wrote. “This strategy is clearly a part of their attempt to legitimize the Duterte administration’s harassment, intimidation, and attacks against groups and institutions critical of its anti-people and anti-democratic policies,” the network wrote.

This incident comes after the Senate finance committee slashed earlier this month the proposed budget of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), the Duterte administration’s counter-insurgency body, by P24 billion, leaving the task force with P4 billion for 2022. Senators said that the bulk of the NTF-ELCAC’s proposed budget was realigned to fund crucial pandemic response programs, including the compensation of health workers.

In an earlier statement, Gabriela welcomed the Senate’s move but said that “bringing it to zero would be better,” adding that the P24 billion can be reallocated for cash aid programs, and called attention to a separate P2 billion NTF-ELCAC fund “tucked under different agencies” and urged lawmakers to realign the budget for government-run hospitals in 2022.

“These red-tagging gimmicks, while not new, seek to place the lives and safety of our members and leaders on the line. We strongly condemn these publicly funded gimmicks and assert our firm stance against red-tagging and fake news,” Gabriela said.

The group added that they will explore possible legal remedies after gathering more information on the incident.

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