Progressive lawmakers welcomed on Thursday, March 25, the bill that calls for the criminalization of “red-tagging” activities.
Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate and Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago said they will study the bill filed by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, which defines and penalizes red-tagging with a jail time of 10 years.
“We welcome the initiative of Sen. Frank Drilon,” Zarate said in a statement.
Elago stressed that red-tagging by military, police and other government officials have resulted in the deaths of those tagged as state enemies or their supporters. The government, on the other hand, has repeatedly denied engaging in such activities.
“We must demand justice and accountability for the relentless red-tagging which caused graver human rights violations and killings of [human rights defenders] and activists,” she said in a separate statement.
“Tuloy-tuloy ang red-tagging habang wala pa ring nananagot; dapat itigil na ito (Red-tagging will continue as long as no one is held accountable, this should stop),” she added.
Under Drilon’s bill, “red-tagging” is committed when “any state actor, such as a law enforcement agent, paramilitary or military personnel…labels, vilifies, brands, names, accuses, harasses, persecutes, stereotypes or caricatures individuals groups, or organizations as state enemies, left-leaning, subversives, communists, or terrorists as part of a counter-insurgency or anti-terrorism program or strategy”.
It proposes a penalty of imprisonment of 10 years and perpetual disqualification to hold public office.
For their part, the Makabayan bloc members of the lower chamber are pushing for the passage of the Human Rights Defenders Bill (House Bill 9199), which includes provisions specifying the right against intimidation, defamation and vilification.
“As it is, we will certainly work and collaborate with our House colleagues and Senate counterparts in crafting a comprehensive framework of Human Rights Defenders protection that we can legislate – one that will address the issues of and make accountable the perpetrators of red tagging, filing of trump-up charges, extra-judicial killings and other attacks against human rights defenders,” Zarate said.