CHR deplores ‘Red-tagging’ of human rights groups

Published May 22, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) expressed alarm over numerous ‘red tagging’ incidents involving harassment or persecution of individuals and organizations that are critical of the Philippine government. They are labeled as “communists” or “terrorists” regardless of their affiliations.

The CHR said it has received reports of red-tagging involving the Union of Journalists of the Philippines, a student organization in the UP College of Mass Communication, as well as the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, a consolidation of individuals, institutions, and organizations across the country that protect and promote human rights.

The CHR also deplored that the former chairperson of the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines Rowena Carranza-Paraan and Chairperson of Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) Windel Bolinget have likewise been victimized by red-tagging.

CHR Spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia said that the Commission will not stand for red-tagging. She reminded the government that expressions of dissent and the freedom to air out legitimate concerns without fear of reprisal are guaranteed rights by the 1987 Constitution.

“Time and again, we have cautioned, particularly the government, on the dangers of haphazardly labeling persons and groups without sufficient proof,” she said. “Red-tagging is a slippery slope as it may trigger a number of human rights violations, including harassment, unlawful arrests, torture, and threats to life.”

She even cited the repeal of the Anti-Subversion Law in 1992, which meant that being part of the Communist Party of the Philippines is no longer illegal.

The challenge now, said de Guia, is for those who are accusing people or organizations of committing illegal acts to prove these before fair and competent courts. Otherwise, she said, indiscriminate peddling of unfounded accusations would only sow disinformation.

“We call on the government to extend its vigilance against peddlers of so-called ‘fake news’ in all aspects of governance and ensure equal protection of all persons under our laws,” said de Guia, adding that “the role of the government is to uphold its mandate for truth, fairness, and justice for all.”