On Senate Bill No. 2121 seeking to define and penalize red-tagging

Karapatan welcomes and supports the filing of Senate Bill No. 2121 which aims to define and penalize red-tagging. There continues to be a glaring impunity for State forces who commit, perpetuate, and peddle such dangerous lies and deadly rhetoric — such as Secretary Delfin Lorenzana's recent reappointment of two military generals who were fired for publishing a fake list red-tagging alumni of the University of the Philippines.

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has deemed red-tagging a “persistent and powerful threat to civil society and freedom of expression.” Red-tagging should have no place in a democratic society, and we believe that such measure to penalize it is especially urgent now amid the government's massive red-tagging campaign targeting human rights defenders, civil society organizations, political activists and dissenters, and government critics.

Along with the penalties of 10-year imprisonment and disqualification to hold public office for State actors who shall commit red-tagging, we also propose that the measure also includes provisions for courts to issue automatic protection orders for individuals who are red-tagged. Such rhetoric gravely threatens people's lives, liberty, and security — such that it is effectively a death sentence, or a prelude to extrajudicial killings or other violations of civil and political rights.

As we support the filing and call for the passage of Senate Bill No. 2121, we also urge the Senate and the House of Representatives to pass the Human Rights Defenders Protection Bill to comprehensively address and combat red-tagging, especially after the call of United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Mary Lawlor following her recent report highlighting red-tagging as a threat to human rights defenders in the country.

Cristina Palabay
Karapatan Secretary General