Incoming justice chief Boying Remulla slammed for red-tagging slain labor leader

Incoming Secretary of Justice Jesus Crispin
Incoming Secretary of Justice Jesus Crispin "Boying" Remulla holds a news conference outside the gates of the Export Processing Zone Authority Friday, Feb. 3, 2017 in General Trias township, Cavite province south of Manila, Philippines. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

Incoming Department of Justice (DOJ) head Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla stirred controversy yet again following his May 31 interview with Rappler. This time, it was for his comments on murdered labor leader Emmanuel “Manny” Asuncion, whom he branded as a “career helper” for communist revolutionaries.

“He was really identified already, as early as before na tumutulong sa mga dumadaan na mga a[r]mado (helping revolutionaries passing-by). I don’t know if that is red-tagging, but that’s how it was described to me by some people in the intel community. I asked them about that,” he said while talking about his term plans with reporter Lian Buan.

In response, Defend Southern Tagalog (ST) warned that the Cavite 7th District Representative’s comments may be signs of darker things to come.

“As the security sector has used ad infinitum [roughly “endlessly” in English] the utterly false yet very deadly accusation of links with the communist movement as a smokescreen for mass-manufactured court warrants, often ending in illegal arrests and even killings, we take these comments as a direction of bleaker prospects for justice to even be achieved under the second Marcos administration,” the human rights group explained last June 1.

Asuncion, once the coordinator for the multi-sectoral alliance Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) in Cavite, was murdered by authorities in a Workers’ Assistance Center (WAC) office in Dasmariñas last March 7, 2021. He was among the nine activists killed in separate raids across Region IV-A (CALABARZON) as part of COPLAN ASVAL, with the incident also being nicknamed as “Bloody Sunday.”

Defend-ST also said that “Remulla only parroted the claims of military and police institutions that have similarly been the same alibis given to the court in the murder charges filed against officers of the PNP-CIDG [Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group] by the DOJ AO35 [Administrative Order No. 35] special investigation teams for the raid and killing of Chai [full name is Ana Marie Lemita-Evangelista] and Ariel Evangelista.”

The Evangelistas, both members of the environmentalist group Ugnayan ng Mamamayan Laban sa Pagwasak ng Kalikasan at Kalupaan (UMALPAS KA), were also killed in COPLAN ASVAL. Their 10 year-old son witnessed their demise.

Not backpedaling in the face of public criticism, Remulla also downplayed the time he red-tagged attendees of a sortie for outgoing Vice President Leni Robredo and Sen. Kiko Pangilinan in Cavite this March 4. Instead, Remulla claimed that he was merely “unmasking” the participants.

“Still unapologetic in his red-tagging of the Tropang Angat grand rally in Cavite, Remulla's incoming DOJ stint is concretizing claims of him from various quarters and democracy-loving citizens as a ‘secretary of injustice,’” Defend-ST continued.

They weren’t the first to call Remulla as an “injustice secretary,” with LGBTQIA+ rights group Lakapati Laguna referring to him as such in a May 24 statement. This was after Remulla was revealed to have been picked by Bongbong Marcos to lead the DOJ.

“With the addition of a rabid red-tagger and human rights violator like Remulla, the trajectory of the Marcos Jr. regime becomes even more clear — intensified attacks against progressives and dissent, and blatant disregard of justice and human rights,” Lakapati Laguna said then.

With Remulla inching closer to taking office, Defend-ST urged outgoing DOJ Sec. Menardo Guevarra to hasten their investigations on Asuncion’s and the Evangelistas’ murders. They said that “for as the cliche goes, justice delayed is justice denied. And 450 days after Bloody Sunday is a delay long enough.”

Reuben Pio Martinez is a news writer who covers stories on various communities and scientific matters. He regularly tunes in to local happenings. The views expressed are his own.

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