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Teacher activist red tagged anew

By JIGGER J. JERUSALEM
Correspondent .

A TEACHER and leader of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers in northern Mindanao has become the latest victim of red tagging — she was branded as a “communist teacher.”

Ophelia Tabacon, ACT chairperson for Region 10, said it was around noontime Thursday when she was having lunch when she saw flyers posted on a wall outside the school where she was teaching with photographs of her and other activists.

The flyers, she said, labeled her a “maestro komunista” (communist teacher) while accusing her of exploiting minors and molding them to become communists.

In a statement, ACT said Tabacon was branded as a communist for her mere association with human rights advocates and defenders, including Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate and other personalities.

Aside from Tabacon, the flyers also accused her son as a “leader of the terrorist NPA.”

The same propaganda materials were given Tabacon, disguised as a message from ACT Rep. France Castro during a leadership training seminar organized by the ACT Teachers partylist in a hotel here Thursday afternoon, with a note equivalent to a death threat from a group that called itself the “Anti-Communist Terrorist Vigilante.”

“A bouquet of flowers and a note was handed to me as I entered the seminar venue. I thought they came from [Castro] as her name was on the envelope. I felt glad upon seeing the flowers, but I had my apprehensions. When I opened the envelop, I saw the flyers,” Tabacon said in an interview.

Some people also implicated in the flyers were charged with trumped cases of multiple murder, frustrated murder, and other crimes linked to activities of the New People’s Army.

“Tabacon herself was said to be facing trumped up charges of arson, kidnapping, and robbery for her alleged involvement in the NPA Sibagat raid. However, Ophelia Tabacon has never been to Sibagat nor has she participated in such activities. We are confident that the charges against her will immediately be dismissed,” the group said.

Tabacon, her family, and all the names in the flyer are in grave danger due to the irresponsible, cowardly, and malicious red-tagging carried out by nameless perpetrators, it said.

“Accusing Ophelia of being an NPA combatant puts her at risk for extrajudicial killings and other forms of violations on her right to life and liberty. [Tabacon] and her organization has consistently advanced teachers’ rights and welfare with the help of government agencies,” the group added.

Tabacon said that was her sixth time to be red-tagged, but she said she would pursue her advocacies for the benefit of the country’s teachers.

“I fear for my life, but it [red tagging] won’t stop me,” she said.

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