3rd anti-red-tagging bill filed in House

Published May 25, 2021, 2:26 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Nine more members of the House of Representatives have filed a bill for the criminalization of red-tagging.

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The lawmakers — Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, Quezon City Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte, La Union Rep. Pablo Ortega as well as Makabayan bloc congressmen Bayan Muna Reps. Carlos Zarate, Eufemia Cullamat, Ferdinand Gaite, Gabriela Women’s Party Arlene Brosas, and ACT Teachers’ Partylist Rep. France Castro — said red-tagging “has become a very dangerous action or conduct by public officials and their agents.”

“Red-tagging should be criminalized for two simple reasons: it is committed through the use of public funds, and it has an injurious and irreversible impact on the victims,” they said in filing House Bill No. 9437 on Monday, May 24.

They particularly mentioned the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), which they said, “has become the chief implementor of the policy of red-tagging.”

“This Task Force has been conducting red-tagging activities against political dissenters in fora among agencies and offices of the government, schools, and other institutions; in publications, posters and other materials disseminated and posted along the main thoroughfares in different centers in the country; in social media campaigns of fake news discrediting and vilifying individuals and interest groups that they view as ‘enemies of the state’; and in public statements done through media broadcasts and publications,” they added.

“All these activities were and are being funded by public funds,” they pointed out.

The victims of red-tagging, they further said, are also being subject to harassments, surveillance, death threats, and worse, disappearances and killings.

Under the HB 9437, red-tagging is “committed through statements, social media posts, announcements, declarations, signages, streamers, placards, public fora and other similar venues or media where individuals, entities, groups and/or organizations are publicly labeled, vilified, branded, named, accused or caricatured” as “state enemies, subsversives, armed rebels, communists or terrorists or [their] fronts”.

It proposes a penalty of prision correccional, or imprisonment of up to six years, for public officials and employees who commit red-tagging.

If the individual was hurt or killed due to the red-tagging of the public official, the latter should be punished in accordance with the Revised Penal Code.

Earlier, House deputy speaker and 1-PACMAN Rep. Michael Romero and Paranaque 2nd District Rep. Joy Myra Tambunting filed their respective anti-red-tagging bills.

In the Senate, Minority Leader Franklin Drilon also filed a similar measure defining and penalizing red-tagging.