DND: Gabriela a front for communist groups

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Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 5) — The Department of National Defense (DND) has called Gabriela Women’s Party a front for communist groups, citing information allegedly obtained from leaders of these organizations.

During the House Committee on National Defense and Security’s hearing on the Armed Forces’ modernization program on Tuesday, Defense officials presented a list of 18 local organizations supposedly used as fronts by communist groups.

Included in the list was Gabriela, a sectoral party promoting the rights and welfare of marginalized and under-represented Filipino women. This prompted its party-list representative, Congresswoman Arlene Brosas, to ask the DND officials how they came to the conclusion that the party is a communist front.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said they obtained the information from documents and gadgets seized from leaders of communist groups. He added that he is not saying Gabriela is a communist group, but a "legal front."

"There is no prelude to martial law. We are not red tagging Gabriela. We are just saying that they are fronts of the communist movement. We based this conclusion from documents that we captured from our operations all over the country. Palaging lumalabas yung Gabriela at saka yung iba pang mga fronts nila [Gabriela's name is always coming up as well as other fronts]. So what can you conclude there? I'm not saying you are communist. I am saying that you are fronting, kayo yung legal front nila [you are their legal front]," Lorenzana said

Lorenzana added no less than Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison named some of the groups included in the list.

Brosas said the DND's claim is putting the lives of Gabriela members in danger, and that its ties to communist organizations have yet to be proven in court.

Lorenzana's claim comes after authorities arrested activists last week, among them, Cora Agovida, spokesperson of Gabriela-Metro Manila.

Organizations whose members were arrested decried the recent arrests and raids, saying it was a crackdown against the critics of President Rodrigo Duterte and his policies.