Manila RTC ruling should put end to red-tagging, says Makabayan bloc

Published September 23, 2022, 12:43 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

Alleged red-tagging and terrorist-tagging by government agencies and law enforcement forces, as well as by their supposed “paid hacks and trolls” should immediately stop.

ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro, Gabriela Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas, and Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel (Screenshots from Zoom)

Thus, reckoned the House of Representatives Makabayan bloc in a joint statement Friday, Sept. 23, following reports that Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 19 dismissed the Department of Justice (DOJ) petition to proscribe the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) as terrorist organizations.

The Makabayan bloc in the 19th Congress are composed of Deputy Minority Leader ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro, Assistant Minority Leader Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas, and Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raoul Danniel Manuel.

“This is a breakthrough decision that should put a stop to red-tagging and open the doors to the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the CPP-NPA-NDF (National Democratic Front),” they said.

The militant solons noted two key points in the decision promulgated by Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar. First, that the alleged “terrorist” acts committed by the CPP-NPA are in furtherance of the political crime of rebellion, not terrorism.

“The ruling rightly points out that rebellion arises from social inequality and must be addressed by government in a comprehensive manner that addresses it’s root causes. It therefore affirms the conviction of peace advocates that the way to end armed conflict is through a negotiated political settlement, not through terrorist labeling, all-out war with rebels, and a crackdown on dissent,” they said.

Second, the Makabayan lawmakers said the RTC ruling defined red-tagging as “the malicious blacklisting of individuals and organizations critical or not fully supportive of a sitting government or administration as members of the CPP-NPA” and characterized it as “a pernicious practice that poses a threat to the security of activists. Members of national democratic mass organizations (NDMOs) espouse valid societal change, without necessarily giving thought to ‘armed struggle’ or ‘violence’ aimed at over throwing the government, as a means to achieve the same. To automatically lump activists, mostly members of the above ground organizations as members of the CPP-NPA invariably constitute red-tagging.”

They said the ruling also cited the 1964 Hernandez doctrine which in essence means that ideology should not be criminalized and “the act of indoctrinating, preparing people for the revolution is not the revolution itself” in contrast with what the Anti-Terror Law wants.

“As it is, activism is a political act and is not a crime but an important part of democracy,” the joint statement read.

“The proscription being demanded by the [DOJ] and the Anti-Terror Council will therefore have dangerous implications for those red-tagged, i.e., alleged to be members of the CPP-NPA, regardless of it is even true or not as contained in the ATA Section 10 penalizing recruitment and membership,” it added.