Duterte urged to certify as urgent Senate bill vs red-tagging

SENATE Minority Leader Franklin Drilon has urged President Rodrigo Duterte to certify as urgent the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 2121 seeking to criminalize red-tagging.

The senator filed SB 2121 to address the concern of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra regarding the “problem of reckless endangerment” caused by red-tagging.

“With the opinion of the Secretary of Justice, we urge President Duterte to certify as urgent the passage of Senate Bill 2121 which we filed to punish red-tagging by state agents,” Drilon said.

“The opinion of the Secretary of Justice that there is a gap in the law as red-tagging is presently not a criminal offense under our laws, makes the passage of SB 2121 which we filed imperative,” he said.

Drilon lauded Guevarra for endorsing SB 2121 and for acknowledging that there are no sufficient and available legal remedies for victims of red-tagging.

“Victims are left without proper recourse against their perpetrators and are forced to file seemingly-appropriate-but-not-quite cases, like libel and grave threats,” he stressed.

Drilon added that libel, or grave threats, “is not appropriate and sufficient where a state agent vilifies a person as an enemy of the state thereby impinging on the rights of that individual.”

SB 2121 defines red-tagging as “the act of labeling, vilifying, branding, naming, accusing, harassing, persecuting, stereotyping, or caricaturing individuals, groups, or organizations as state enemies, left-leaning, subversives, communists, or terrorists as part of a counter-insurgency or anti-terrorism strategy or program, by any state actor, such as law enforcement agent, paramilitary, or military personnel”.

The proposed measure also states that any person found guilty of red-tagging should be imprisoned for 10 years and must suffer the accessory penalty of perpetual absolute disqualification to hold public office.