PAMPANGA — If Sonia Soto is being branded an enemy of the state for her history as a student activist during the Marcos dictatorship, Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Friday said he should be too.
“If she is red-tagged then I too should be red-tagged for having been active in the student movement during the Marcos regime as she was,” said Pangilinan, who started his political career as councilor then chairman of the University Student Council of the University of the Philippines in Diliman.
Soto said she believes she is being red-tagged as part of the campaign to allow the police and military to enter campuses.
Soto, of the League of Filipino Students, and then defense minister Juan Ponce-Enrile signed the eponymous Soto-Enrile accord in 1982 barring the military and police from entering campuses.
“Si Sonia, nauna siya sa akin bilang student leader ng mga two, three years. Aktibista rin siya noon, tinitingala namin (She was ahead of us as a student leader by about two or three years. She was activist we looked up to),” Pangilinan said in an interview with local media in Pampanga, where he is consulting with farmers and agriculturists on the implementing rules of his Sagip Saka Law.
Pangilinan called on the Armed Forces to stop the threats and harassments of Soto and other former student activists.
“Di tayo naniniwala sa red-tagging. Sumama rin tayo sa martsa, nakipaglaban sa diktadura. Kung i-red-tag nila si Sonia, ako rin i-red-tag nila. Di ito tama. Sana mag-isip-isip ang Armed Forces (We don’t believe in red-tagging. We also joined marches and fought the dictatorship. If they red-tag Sonia, they I should be red-tagged too. This is not right. The Armed Forces should re-think this policy),” Pangilinan added.
Red-tagging is a propaganda tactic often directed toward people and organizations critical of the Philippine government who are branded “communist” or “terrorist” regardless of their actual beliefs or affiliations.
Soto, a four-time Golden Dove awardee, was identified by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (Nica) director in Central Luzon as among the 31 radio broadcasters in the country who had links to communist and terrorist groups.