Nine lawmakers in the House of Representatives are pushing for the criminalization of red-tagging, saying such acts violate the right of the public to freedom of expression and right to political belief without fear of prosecution.
Under House Bill No. 9437 filed on Monday, a copy of which was sent to the media on Tuesday, the lawmakers said that red-tagging should be criminalized because “it is committed through the use of public funds, and it has an injurious irreversible impact on the victims.”
The lawmakers—which include Bayan Muna Reps. Carlos Zarate, Eufemia Cullamat, and Ferdinand Gaite; Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman; Quezon City Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte; La Union Rep. Pablo Ortega; Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas; Act Teachers Rep. France Castro; and Kabataan Rep. Sarah Jane Elago—specifically mentioned the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) which they called as 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,” the lawmakers said.
“Red-tagging has an injurious and irreversible impact on the victims since once an individual or group or organization is red-tagged, the stigma attaches. These victims are now subject to harassments, surveillance, death threats, and worse enforced disappearances and killings,” they added.
The measure defines red-tagging as “the act of publicly labeling, vilifying, branding, naming, accusing, or caricaturing individuals, groups, or organizations of being state enemies, subversives, armed rebels, communists or terrorists, or fronts thereof, thereby implying or insinuating involvement or engagement in armed rebellion acts of terrorism or any wrong doing or criminal acts.”
The measure covers red-tagging committed through statements, social media posts, announcements, declarations, signages, streamers, placards, public fora or media.
A similar measure has been filed in the Senate by Minority Leader Franklin Drilon who seeks to criminalize red-tagging and provide for penalties “in order to fix the legal gaps, address impunity and institutionalize a system of accountability.”