SC rules against red-tagging

PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

THE SUPREME COURT (SC) in a landmark decision ruled that red-tagging, vilification, labeling, and guilt by association threatens a person’s right to life, liberty, or security and could warrant the issuance of protection.

“Inherent in the practice of red-baiting is the use of threats and intimidation to discourage ‘subversive’ activities. Whether such threats ripen into actual abduction or killing of supposed ‘Reds’ is largely uncertain disappearance or extrajudicial killing when the writ of amparo becomes necessary,” read the 39-page ruling penned by Justice Rodil V. Zalameda.

The SC en banc decided on a case filed by an activist and former Bayan Muna party-list representative Siegfred D. Deduro, when the Iloilo Provincial Peace and Order Council labeled him as a part of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

Major General Eric C. Vinoya, commander of the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, instructed his officers to give the presentation that tagged Mr. Deduro.

Mr. Deduro said posters were put up around Iloilo City with his image tagged as a criminal, terrorist, and member of the CPP-NPA-National Democratic Front (NDF).

“The damages inflicted by red-baiting evolve too: They start from the psychological before they turn physical. Amid a history of shifting social and political ties, we affirm the Judiciary’s sworn duty to see to it that the protection of every right guaranteed in the Constitution remains constant for all,” the decision read.

“The heightened risk of danger or death brought about being labeled as a Communist, a Communist sympathizer, or even merely being adjacent to a Communist cause should be seriously considered by judges in Amparo proceedings,” wrote Senior Associate Justice Marvic MVF Leonen in his concurring opinion.

A writ of amparo seeks protection before a court.

SC Spokesperson Camille Sue Mae L. Ting said in a Viber message to reporters that anyone who felt red-tagged by state authorities may apply for protection but it depends on the courts to grant it or not.

Human rights lawyer Jose Manual “Chel” I. Diokno in an X post said the decision should serve as a “stern warning” to government forces and individuals to refrain from this “illegal practice.”

“The Civil Service Commission and all government agencies should direct their officials and employees to desist from red-tagging and abide by the rule of law,” he said.

Bayan Chair Emeritus Carol P. Araullo in a statement urged those tagged as “communist-terrorists” and suffered its negative effects to file charges against red-taggers as a “form of legal push back.”

For his part, Bayan Muna Executive Vice President Carlos Isagani T. Zarate in a separate statement said the decision shows “unconditional declaration” from the SC that red-tagging is “gravely dangerous.”

ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France L. Castro urged her fellow solons to fast-track the passage of House Bill 1152 or the criminalization of red-tagging.

“The struggle for human rights and justice is far from over, but this decision is a significant step forward. We will continue to fight for a society that values human life, dignity, and freedom,” Ms. Castro said in a statement. — Chloe Mari A. Hufana