Remulla to 'tone down' red-tagging as justice secretary

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 24) — Congressman Boying Remulla, a staunch ally of presumptive next president Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., promised Tuesday that he will be "more reserved" about accusing activists of being affiliated with communist insurgents once he takes his post as justice secretary in the next administration

The Cavite 7th District representative, who previously drew flak for red-tagging supporters of Vice President Leni Robredo who attended her campaign rally in his province, admitted he has always been outspoken about these things.

Robredo is Marcos' main rival in the presidential race, but is a far second with some 14 million votes, or less than half of that obtained by Marcos, based on unofficial count.

"Of course, I will have to be more reserved about many of these things. I’ve always been outspoken. It would be a hard habit to break," Remulla told CNN Philippines' The Source, when asked if he will be more careful about making such accusations.

"But maybe we will tone down a little on that and just convert it to action. Di na ako magsasalita. Gagawin ko na lang (I will not speak up anymore. I will just take action)," he added.

During the campaign period, Remulla claimed that Robredo's supporters "looked like activists" and were supposedly being trained by the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing New People's Army.

As the next secretary of justice, Remulla will be among those leading the Anti-Terrorism Council that will have the authority to designate individuals and groups as terrorists.

Remulla seemed unapologetic when asked about the incident in March. Opposition Senator Franklin Drilon said in the past that he was acting like a "political operator rather than a congressman" when he made such claims. Attendees to the event also previously refuted Remulla's accusations.

RELATED: Drilon: Remulla acting like a political operator for red-tagging Leni-Kiko supporters 

"Alam mo red-tagging, I have to explain to you. Ang rebellion, terrorism kagaya niyan, designated yan ng NPA. Pag ang crime merong principal, may accomplice, may accessory," Remulla said. "Probably hindi nila alam pag sila nakipagsimpatiya sa mga rebelde na terorista, criminal activity ang ginagawa nila."

[Translation: You know, red-tagging, I have to explain it to you. Rebellion and terrorism activities like that are designated by the NPA. When there's a crime committed, there's a principal, an accomplice, and an accessory. Probably these people don't know that when they sympathize with terrorists, they are committing a criminal activity.]

Remulla even recalled his previous motion to rescind the third reading approval of the bill meant to institutionalize the 1989 UP-Department of National Defense Accord that would prohibit state security forces from entering UP campuses without prior notification to the university administration.

"Mga kabataan, accessory, diba? Depende sa brainwashing na nangyayari. Nagrerecruit sila sa mga eskwelahan. Thats why I had to stop the UP Security Bill," he said. "Dapat diyan walang safe haven ang NPA, dapat mawala talaga iyan sa atin."

[Translation: The youth can be an accessory, right? It depends on how the brainwashing works. Some are being recruited in schools. That's why I had to stop the UP Security Bill. There should be no safe haven for the NPA, and they should be gone.]

The Commission on Elections has reiterated the need for the House of Representatives to issue a resolution declaring Remulla's seat vacant and paving the way for the poll body to call a special election. Remulla already won his reelection bid in the May 2022 elections. He said he will hold on to his current job until he is confirmed as justice secretary.

Should he be officially confirmed, Remulla said he will prioritize making an integrated database for the criminal justice system, a data tracking system, an audit of prisoners, and institute reforms in agencies like the National Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Immigration.