DEPARTMENT of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Thursday, April 29, 2021, expressed support for a bill seeking to criminalize “red-tagging.”
At present, Guevarra said the charges that may be filed against a person linking others to the communist movement are libel, defamation, threat and coercion.
He said recent reports of red-tagging have “become quite disturbing.”
“In the past few months, medyo sunod-sunod ang reklamo about red-tagging and people have raised their voice against it, so might as well have one because the frequency of this act loosely called ‘red-tagging’ has become quite disturbing,” Gueverra said in a television interview.
Red-tagging, according to Senate Bill 2121 filed by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, refers to the “act of labeling, vilifying, branding, naming, accusing, harassing, persecuting, stereotyping, or caricaturing” individuals, groups, or organizations as “state enemies, left-leaning, subversives, communists, or terrorists as part of a counter-insurgency or anti-terrorism strategy or program,” by any state actor, such as law enforcement agent, paramilitary, or military personnel.
Guevarra said the House of Representatives should also come up with a similar bill.
He said, however, that President Rodrigo Duterte is not likely to certify the bill as urgent.
“The prerogative of the president, he may or may not grant the request to certify the bill as urgent, but looking at the current priorities of this present administration, I mean the legislative agenda, it doesn’t look very probable that the president will issue a certificate for urgency,” he said.
“This matter of the anti-red tagging bill does not fall in that legislative agenda,” Guevarra added.
Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr., spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) and commander of the Southern Luzon command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), is being criticized for red-tagging.
His latest target is Ana Patricia Non, who initiated the community pantry movement in the country.
Drilon proposed to make red-tagging punishable by up to 10 years of imprisonment “in order to fix the legal gaps, address impunity, and institutionalize a system of accountability.”
He said those who will be found guilty of red-tagging should be disqualified from holding public office.
The Senate committee on national defense and security, peace, unification and reconciliation earlier said there is no need for a new law to penalize red-tagging as there are enough provisions under other judicial remedies for such cases.
The report was issued after an inquiry into the publication of an unverified list of students allegedly recruited by the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, New People’s Army.
Drilon said libel or grave threats are not appropriate with the act of red tagging.
He noted that red-tagging has “resulted to serious human rights violations such as harassment, arbitrary arrests, detentions, and enforced disappearances.”
“In some instances, being red-tagged is a prelude to death,” he added. (SunStar Philippines)