JUSTICE SECRETARY JESUS CRISPIN REMULLA — PHILIPPINE STAR/ KRIZ JOHN ROSALES

PHILIPPINE Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla on Monday night defended the government against accusations of tagging people and groups as communists without basis, saying it should be able to respond to its detractors.

“Is it a one-way street, where only critics can criticize and critics cannot be criticized?” he said in his statement to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee during its 136th session, which was streamed live on the UN’s website.

“If you can dish it out, you should be able to take it,” he said.

Mr. Remulla pointed out that the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army, should not be immune to criticism.

“If a person is able to dish out criticism, they should be able to take criticism as well especially if they are supporting those that are promoting the death of our people,” the Justice chief added.

The country’s Anti-Terrorism Council has labeled the communist party as a terrorist group, but a Manila trial court recently issued a ruling declaring the CPP-NPA as a legitimate political movement.

The Department of Justice earlier said it would take its plea seeking to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines as a terrorist group before the Court of Appeals.

Michael Henry LI. Yusingco, a policy analyst, said public officials should respond to criticism by demonstrating good performance and delivering results instead of red-tagging.

“The people have a responsibility to hold public officials to account and have every right to express their grievances against the government,” he said in a Facebook Messenger chat.

Mr. Yusingco noted that citizens should be punished for committing crimes and not expressing discontent and their grievances against the state.

Arjan P. Aguirre, who teaches political science at the Ateneo de Manila University, earlier said the state would probably continue accusing people of being communists despite the court decision.

Meanwhile, Mr. Remulla said at the same committee session that the Philippines would continue its support of the UN’s humanitarian efforts, especially programs that aid refugees.

“We are a nation of migrants, a land of people on the move, a safe haven for nine waves of refugees fleeing persecution,” he said. — John Victor D. Ordoñez