On the Senate Committee hearing on red-tagging

It is disappointing that a great part of the Senate Committee on National Defense hearing on red-tagging was used as a platform for double victimization, including victim-blaming, of those whose lives, liberty and security have been put at extreme risk because of the policy and practice of red-tagging. Officials and adjuncts of the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) have clearly used the said venue to propagate malicious and baseless accusations - without an iota of credible and competent evidence that can stand in court. They red-tagged the victims over and over again, they even had the temerity to red-tag the Commission on Human Rights and former UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston again. Just look at how these officials and adjuncts are preening over how they got away with the perpetuation of their lies and convoluted theories.

Thus, human rights advocates and victims have the right to ask: With a Senate dominated by the President’s allies, will this not be used to further this dangerous policy, that incites violence and harm on people exercising their right to free expression of their political beliefs, to association and to defend people’s rights? With the movers of the Anti-Terrorism Law, which is being broadly opposed as a draconian law aimed at suppressing dissent, as the initiators of this process in the Senate, isn’t this a pretext for the eventual implementation of the said law?

As human rights advocates and victims closely watch how the Committee report and the Senate’s resolution on the issue will turn out, we remain steadfast in calling for the criminalization of red-tagging as part of the proposed Human Rights Defenders’ Protection Bill filed by Sen. Leila de Lima; the end to red-tagging as part of government’s counterinsurgency program that incites violence and harm on political dissenters and activists; the abolition and defunding of the NTF-ELCAC; and for justice and accountability for all victims of red-tagging and other grave human rights violations.