Palace doubts red-tagging is dangerous for the innocent

Malacañang does not agree that "red-tagging", or the branding of government critics and activists as communists or enemies of the state, is dangerous for those who are innocent.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after Senator Ping Lacson said that he is seriously considering the recommendation to criminalize red-tagging.

In his Thursday presser, Roque said Malacañang does not agree that red-tagging is dangerous for the innocent.

"We do not agree na kung talagang red-tagging ng mga inosente delikado (that red-tagging is dangerous for people who are innocent)," he said.

Activist groups claim that red-tagging is used by government forces and their supporters to harass and intimidate. They added that the act has likewise led to the assassination of some of their members.

In October, Malacañang said that President Duterte does not want law enforcers in the country to be publicly red-tagging any individual without evidence and reminded them to just do their job quietly and according to the law.

However, this week, Duterte himself directly identified the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives as a front of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

In his presser, Roque defended Duterte's pronouncements against the Makabayan bloc, saying the Chief Executive was saying facts.

"As far as the President is concerned, Bayan Muna partylist group, kasama na si (including) Congressman Zarate, it's a statement of fact and not red-tagging," he said.

Last month, President Duterte slammed university students who threatened to hold strikes and not comply with their academic requirements over the government's supposed failure to address the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent typhoons. He said they do nothing but recruit communists and go against the government.

Government agents like Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr. and Communications Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy, both from the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), were criticized for their supposed continuous red-tagging of individuals.

Parlade, a military official known to red-tag government critics, warned both actress Liza Soberano and former Miss Universe Catriona Gray about involving themselves with progressive groups.

He likewise wondered if Manila Mayor Isko Moreno welcomes terrorists in the country's capital after he ordered the removal of anti-terrorist tarpaulins in the city.