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Criminalizing Red-tagging

In response to Senate Bill No. 2121, or the Act Defining and Penalizing Red-Tagging filed by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon last month, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra expressed support for the push to declare Red-tagging as a criminal offense.

“(Criminalizing Red-tagging) may help reduce the problem of reckless endangerment. It’s something for Congress to ponder on,” Guevarra said in an interview.

“It would be best…that Congress enact a law clearly defining and expressly penalizing what is loosely called today as ‘Red-tagging’,” he added.

Under the present laws, individuals who have been Red-tagged, or accused of being members of the Communist Party of the Philippines without legal basis, may only lodge cases for harassment, defamation, coercion, unjust vexation and violation of privacy laws against those making the allegations.

Drilon’s proposed legislation defines Red-tagging as 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.” Anyone found guilty faces 10 years in prison and if that person is a public official, he or she would be disqualified from holding public office.

Criminalizing Red-tagging gives victims legal remedies against accusers, often irresponsible and petty government officials who, as recent events have shown, find it easy to resort to Red-tagging anyone they do not like.

In this country where there is a standing and “shoot-to-kill” order against communist rebels by the President himself that has been implemented with much gusto by our bloodthirsty security forces and vigilantes alike, Red-tagging is extremely dangerous. Criminalizing it will go a long way in protecting regular folk from being marked, without any proof or due process, for possible persecution and death.

The chronic Red-taggers today could very easily be the victims of Red-tagging when their padrinos are no longer in power. Until might is no longer right in this country, criminalizing it as soon as possible will protect everybody from this irresponsible act that has been proven in many instances to reap deadly consequences.*

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