Fearing red-tagging may get out of hand, nine congressmen, belonging to the so-called Makabayan bloc, have filed a bill criminalizing such act that they maintained to be a blatant violation of freedom of expression.
MANILA — Lawmakers filed House Bill No. 9437, a copy of which was only made available to the media on Tuesday, saying that red-tagging should be criminalized because “it is committed through the use of public funds, and it has an injurious irreversible impact on the victims.” They directly pinpointed the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) as the “chief implementor of the policy of red-tagging.
“This task force has been conducting red-tagging activities against political dissenters in fora among agencies and offices of the Government, schools, and other institutions; in publications, posters and other materials disseminated and posted along the main thoroughfares in different centers in the country; in social media campaigns of fake news discrediting and vilifying individuals and interest groups that they view as ‘enemies of the state’; and in public statements done through media broadcasts and publications.”
Bayan Muna Representatives Carlos Zarate, Eufemia Cullamat, Ferdinand Gaite, Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Arlene Brosas, Act Teachers Representative France Castro, and Kabataan Representative Sarah Jane Elago, all belong to the Makabayan bloc, and Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, Quezon City Representative Jose Christopher “Kit” Belmonte, and La Union Representative Pablo Ortega.
“Red-tagging has an injurious and irreversible impact on the victims since once an individual or group or organization is red-tagged, the stigma attaches. These victims are now subject to harassment, surveillance, death threats, and worse enforced disappearances and killings,” they point out.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon also filed a bill that seeks to criminalize red-tagging and provide for penalties “in order to fix the legal gaps, address impunity, and institutionalize a system of accountability.”
It may be recalled that on 27 April, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana dared the Makabayan bloc lawmakers to condemn the atrocities of the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Maoist-oriented Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), which has been waging armed struggle to topple down the elected government for more than 52 years.
Lorenzana made the open challenge during a House committee hearing on the Department of National Defense’s (DND) budget proposal for 2020.
“I will ask the Makabayan bloc: condemn the CPP-NPA. Hindi ‘nyo kino-condemn eh. Kung saan marami ‘yung NPA, nandoon din kayo (You don’t condemn it. Where the NPA are rife, you’re there, too),” Lorenzana told the Makabayan solons. (JD/Headline PH)
Featured image: Most of community pantries that sprouted during the lockdown have been a victim of red-tagging or alleged police profiling.