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‘Narco’ lists, orders of battle, ‘red tags’

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‘Narco’ lists, orders of battle, ‘red tags’
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LISTING enemies is an old political trick. Governments do this all the time, from the “blacklists” in Hollywood during the McCarthy era to President Duterte’s “narco list” released last week. Governments and their agencies are expected to come up with these lists. The question, however, is how they’re using it.

In the case of the “narco list,” critics have alleged that this was meant to influence the upcoming elections in May, questioning the release of the list so close to the polls. While the government insists that the rights of those listed will be respected, the damage to the individuals named will have been done by the time any case gets filed in court. By then, many will have been eliminated, either political or physically.

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Other similar government lists have likewise resulted in such political or physical elimination.

The military maintains what it calls an “order of battle” where people they have been gathering intelligence on are listed. These are individuals and organizations that the military classifies as enemies or threats. Among them are activists, journalists, and leftist organizations that the military claims are supporting the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army.

Some of those listed in these OBs have been killed, like Celso Pojas, a peasant activist and leader who was shot dead in May 2008 in Davao City. His name was included in the military’s PowerPoint presentation “Knowing the Enemy” that was first disclosed in 2007.

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These OBs are no different from the “red-tagging” or red-baiting of individuals and groups perceived by the state to be enemies. Benjamin Ramos, a lawyer representing farmers and peasants in Negros Occidental, was accused of being an NPA rebel before he was murdered in November. Some of those who were killed in the so-called Sagay Massacre in October were later “red-tagged,” as if to justify their killing.

More recently, a list of alleged communists rebels circulated in Cagayan de Oro City, including journalists and activists.

In Laguna, students at the University of the Philippines Los Banos accused the military last month of red baiting following the death of former student John Carlo Alberto during a firefight with rebels. (Laguna Now)


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