MANILA (UPDATE) - Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Thursday backed moves by lawmakers to pass a law defining and criminalizing Red-tagging, saying the frequency of complaints related to it has become disturbing.
Guevarra said the absence of a red-tagging law means individuals accused of being members of the communist insurgency can only file complaints for harassment, defamation, unjust vexation and violation of privacy laws against their accusers.
"In the past few months, medyo sunod-sunod 'yung mga reklamo (there have been succeeding complaints) about red-tagging. People have raised their voice against it so might as well have one (red-tagging law). The frequency of these acts loosely called red-tagging has really become quite disturbing," he said in an interview on ANC's Headstart.
Guevarra later clarified that he only made the remark after receiving requests for investigation into acts of alleged red-baiting.
Senate Minority Leader Frank Drilon has filed Senate Bill 2121, which defines the act of red-tagging and seeks to impose a penalty of 10-year imprisonment and perpetual disqualification from holding office for those convicted.
The bill classifies red-tagging as “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.”
Drilon warned red-tagging endangers the life and safety of victims.
Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez had filed a House resolution urging the National Bureau of Investigation and the Commission on Human Rights to investigate the alleged red-tagging against community pantry organizers.
"Sabi ko of (I said) course I can discuss it with the NBI. Kaya lamang kung ang talagang gustong mangyari ay i-prosecute through red-tagging, sinabi ko na wala naman tayong existing law against red-tagging," Guevarra said.
(But if they really want us to prosecute through red-tagging, I said there's no existing law against red-tagging.)
"Kaya kung gusto ng lehislatura, halimbawa ng Congress, na mag-investigate at later on i-prosecute ng DOJ (Department of Justice) ang acts of red-tagging, they should enact the appropriate law."
(So if the legislative branch wants us to investigate and later prosecute acts of red-tagging, they should enact the appropriate law.)
NO RED-TAGGING COMPLAINT VS PARLADE
President Rodrigo Duterte will not certify the bill as urgent as the administration has already laid out its legislative agenda, Guevarra said.
"I think the administration or the President will most likely follow itong legislative agenda...It doesn’t look very probable na mag-issue ang President ng certificate of urgency," he said.
The DOJ has yet to receive any complaints against Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade for red-tagging, according to Guevarra.
"Wala pang complaint for red-tagging against any person, particularly Gen. Parlade dahil wala namang exactly batas right now against red-tagging," he said.
(We have yet to receive any complaint for red-tagging against any person, particularly Gen. Parlade because there's no law right now against red-tagging.)
"The best that can be filed would be complaint for libel, defamation, or coercion. But non for red-tagging cause there’s no law punishing and defining red-tagging."