By Chito Chavez
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has stressed that activism is a basic right that brings “about social change’’ of democracy.
CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia explained it can be done through demonstrations and protests in contesting “an issue or advocate for a cause’’.
The statement came in response to the government’s call to revive the anti-subversion law which primarily makes it unlawful to conduct protest actions.
Stressing further, de Guia said activism is a “Constitutionally-protected right, especially when used to petition the government for redress of grievances’’.
With talks of its revival, de Guia warned the government of the possible dangers of “framing activism or merely having a contrary opinion as an automatic expression of wanting to overthrow the government.’.
“This is a very limited view of how a democracy works,’’ de Guia said.
Expressing strong opposition, de Guia said the “grave implications of red tagging—labelling groups and individuals as left-learning, subversive, or as communist-terrorists for merely expressing dissent—and this seeming practice of using red scare to discredit legitimate grievances.”
“We remind the government that mere association—in this case, to any leftist organization—is not a crime. And being part of an organization and believing in the principles they espouse is an exercise of the right to freedom of thought, assembly, and association and may affect all other rights when curtailed, such as the right to free speech, expression, and movement among others,’’ she added.
Should there be any wrongdoings in the protest actions, de Guia stressed there are already laws in place that penalises these acts.