On the NTF-ELCAC/NICA’s tagging of me as a terrorist

I condemn in no uncertain terms the baseless and defamatory accusations made by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict/National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NTF-ELCAC/NICA) that I am a terrorist and that when I was Lead Convenor of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), I advanced the agenda of the so- called communist terrorist groups. This Task Force not only peddled lies but has also endangered me for there is a pattern to these accusations – in worst cases, the accused ended up dead.

Last Feb 6, NICA OIC Assistant Director General Jose de Guzman, Director Marites Delos Reyes and one Christabel Hilvano conducted an ”action orientation” on the whole-of-nation approach of the NTF-ELCAC for the staff of the NAPC at the MWSS – LWAUA Multipurpose Court. A powerpoint presentation was shown where I was depicted as a terrorist and an alleged ex-rebel gave a testimony claiming to know me as a top ranking leader of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Other progressive cause-oriented organizations were also red-tagged and accused of having infiltrated the government. This sorry show, failing to convince the NAPC employees who are far more intelligent than those from the intelligence agency, concluded in an emotional appeal by the NTF-ECLAC to join them in a witch hunting spree against the progressives and opposition. 

This latest attack follows a string of political harassment and persecution perpetrated by the state against me to stifle my work as an activist and development worker. It will be recalled that in 2018 while serving as Secretary and head of the NAPC, a warrant of arrest was issued against me and three other progressive former lawmakers of Makabayan in connection with a fabricated murder case filed in the Regional Trial Court of Palayan, Nueva Ecija in 2006. The case was swiftly dismissed by the court for lack of evidence and the warrant of arrest was quashed. 

The accusation that I am a terrorist is a serious one for I have never committed any crime of terrorism nor have I taken arms against the government. The peddlers of this accusation must be brought to justice and own up their violations and malicious deeds. NTF-ECLAC is a waste of taxpayer’s money and it is ironic that the agency that I headed for two years which is supposed to address poverty was used to spreading lies when much needed public funds should have been used for the delivery of social services to the poor.

Red tagging and labelling of activists and members of cause oriented organizations as terrorists must stop. This propaganda strategy of the Duterte regime is violative of basic human rights and freedoms and in extreme cases caused the murder of activists by suspected state agents. No amount of political repression will silence those who have committed themselves to be agents for change and social liberation and for as long as the conditions of poverty, inequality and injustice exist in our country, activism will thrive and activists will multiply a thousandfold.

Liza Maza is a Filipina activist who was the lead convenor of the National Anti-Poverty Commission from August 2016 until her resignation in August 2018. She was a member of the Philippine House of Representatives, representing the Gabriela Women's Party.