Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian joined Monday other lawmakers and personalities in rejecting attempts to link individuals and groups to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing New People’s Army (NPA) without any concrete evidence.
“If you don’t have the evidence, I think it’s wrong to tag individuals,” Gatchalian said in an interview over CNN Philippines.
“As to (the proposals) criminalizing it (red-tagging), I have to study it carefully,” the senator said.
Gatchalian said it is important that linking any person or progressive groups to communist organizations should always be backed by strong evidence.
“As far as I have seen on TV and read on the Internet, it’s important that when you tag anyone, and if you label anyone and if you brand anyone, you have to have concrete evidence,” he said.
“You have to have strong evidence to tag anyone for that matter,” he reiterated.
He said authorities cannot just call someone or tag anyone with a certain label without sufficient proof.
“So my point of view is, you have to have concrete evidence. I trust that the government has solid intelligence, solid information when they tag certain personalities, but the basic concept here is you have to have evidence or else it will be purely malicious,” he reiterated.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, had earlier declared he is open to criminalizing red-tagging after conducting a hearing on the alleged red-tagging activities of military and other law enforcement authorities.
Lacson said that in crafting a law criminalizing red-tagging, the Constitution should serve as the ultimate guide as it ensures freedom of expression and freedom of speech.
“One major that needs to be address is if we are to criminalize red-tagging or red-baiting is if it will infringe on our Constitution’s provision ensuring freedom of expression and freedom of speech. This is a basic right that cannot be violated,” Lacson said.
On the other hand, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said that instead of seeking of a new law, those who were wrongly accused of being communist rebels should seek redress by filing a libel case against their accusers.
Sotto also earlier thumbed down on the need to criminalize red-tagging saying he believes it will not prosper.