Redtaggers have shown their rotting fangs to discredit and bully members of Migrante Alberta, the despicable act whose origin can be traced back to peddlers of anti-communist campaigns in the Philippines. Redtagging in the Philippines implies that individuals or organizations critical of the government is seemingly connected to the communist or terrorist or both regardless of the person’s political belief or affiliation. Redtagging has a damaging effect on its targets.
Despite the allegations devoid of proof, Migrante Alberta positions itself to defend the rights of its members and officials – that is, the right to serve the Filipino people who were forced to seek greener pastures abroad because of the same reasons the armed struggle trudges on – poverty, landlessness, corruption and various forms of socio-economic injustices that still grip the majority of the Filipino people.
A certain Roque Lito and Rosadino Roque Elizabeth have recently redtagged the group, alleging it aims to destroy the government instead of supporting it. The malicious redbaiting went on to cyber-attack Cynthia Palmaria, Migrante Alberta finance officer, in the form of sexual threats.
“I joined Migrante because of its track-record as a true servant of the Filipino people. Our activities throughout the years will speak for our organization and its members’ reputation as indefatigable defenders of our people’s rights and welfare,” said Palmaria.
Migrante reiterates what activists from progressive groups such as Bayan and Makabayan have repeatedly said about red-tagging - what makes it dangerous is it provides justification for gross human rights violations. A person critical of government can now be subjected to harassment, surveillance or even extra-judicial killings. Activists like Palmaria, can be vilified on social media, for their beliefs.
Asked what he thought of the red tagging of Migrante Alberta, Marco Luciano the Director of the organization said "I'm upset that our members were cyberbullied. Cyberbullying is a crime in Alberta and has legal consequences. But redtagging or redbaiting is not new. This has been happening in different regimes. Harassment of critics the Duterte government in the age of social media is different but has the same dangerous effects”. As for the alleged connection with the CPP-NPA Luciano said "they are rebels in the Philippines fighting for what they believe in. We're in Alberta fighting for the rights of our kababayans that is easy to understand right?”
Migrante Alberta has been advocating for the rights of migrants since 2013. The organization kickstarted a campaign to have a career consul general in Alberta in its formation. Migrante was a key figure for the installation of the Philippine Consulate Office in Calgary in 2015. Thousands of kababayans have been benefitting from that. In 2016, they also campaigned for the rights of Canadian-born children of undocumented moms who cannot access health care because of the (non)status of their mothers. It was another victorious campaign that is now being used by
many of these children of different nationalities. In 2018, Migrante Alberta once again gathered and united the Filipino community to have June designated as Philippine Heritage Month in the Province of Alberta. Another successful campaign and lobbying efforts to recognize the economic and cultural contributions of Filipinos in the province. These are only some of the accomplishments of Migrante Alberta.
So why don’t Migrante condemn CPP-NPA if they are not part of it so people will not think they are. Luciano responded “the legitimacy and quality of work that Migrante Alberta do here in the Province and in Canada will not be determined whether we condemn the CPP-NPA or not. That is not our job, and no one will tell us how to do our job except our members and the people that we serve. Perhaps these people who have been red tagging Migrante and other activist groups should ask themselves why is there rebellion in the country that continues to grow in the last 50 years. Perhaps it will also resolve the question of why they left, and many other Filipinos kept leaving their families behind to work abroad.”
Redtagging progressive groups also serves to distract the attention of the Filipino people from issues the Philippine government has so far failed to adequately address, such as the mishandling of the government response to COVID-19, and of late, the next-to-nil response to typhoon-ravaged areas affected by the supertyphoons Rolly and Ulysses.
Migrante Alberta along with Migrante Canada on the other hand, revived Sagip Migrante, a fundraising campaign for the victims of the super typhoons and sent over P128,000 to date and continue to raise funds for those affected by the calamity. In Alberta, the organization intensified its pro-people services acknowledging the ill-effects the pandemic has on poor immigrant communities. The Kapitbisig national project against Covid-19 and Its local Serve The People brigade in the city of Calgary and Edmonton has benefitted tens of families of different nationalities and undocumented migrants through deliveries of food hampers and workshops addressing issues of mental health.
“We will not stop doing what we’re doing because were doing it for our people. Cyberbullying and sexism against my colleagues must be condemned. These redtaggers. the blind supporters of the regime only exposed themselves and the violent and misogynistic nature of the government they are supporting”. Said Nellie Alcaraz, Migrante Alberta’s Calgary Organizer. “Activism and community work are not terrorism nor a crime” Alcaraz added.