Karapatan: Passing measure to penalize red-tagging, protect HRDs more urgent amid attacks vs Senate employees’ union

The National Intelligence Coordinating Agency’s (NICA) “utterly baseless and dangerous red-tagging” of the Senate employees’ union presents a “clear urgency for the Senate to pass measures to define and penalize red-tagging, and to protect unionists, activists, and human rights defenders from such threats and deadly rhetoric — especially from government officials.”

“Rabid red-taggers and lying sycophants can brazenly get away not only with malicious accusations bereft of facts but also statements that put people’s lives, liberties, and security at risk under the guise of so-called intelligence. The Senate must not take this sitting down as the likes of Alex Paul Monteagudo and Lorraine Badoy put its employees’ lives in danger: they must act now by enacting legislation that would penalize red-tagging,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay stated.

In a series of Facebook posts last Tuesday, April 6, NICA Director General Monteagudo claimed that the Senate is supposedly “manned” by the Confederation of Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) — which he tagged as a “front organization” of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the New People’s Army (NPA), and the National Democratic Front (NDF) — through the Senate employees’ union Sandigan ng mga Empleyadong Nagkakaisa sa Adhikain ng Demokratikong Organisasyon (SENADO).

Monteagudo’s posts — which were reposted from the Facebook page “Just Philippines” — further claimed that SENADO “serves as the eyes and ears of the CPP-NPA-NDF to hijack government plans and programs.” As senators slammed Monteagudo, Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy, spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), defended him and reiterated his claims as she expressed “deep concern” over Senate Bill No. 2121, which proposes to define and penalize red-tagging with 10 years of imprisonment and absolute disqualification to hold public office.

Palabay averred that “Badoy has all the reasons to be scared and worried: after all, she and her fellow cabal of devilish red-taggers in the NTF-ELCAC can no longer go around with their perilous red-tagging spree with impunity if such proposed measure is enacted into law. Red-tagging and red-taggers like her, Monteagudo, and the NTF-ELCAC’s cabal of purveyor of lies should have no place in a democratic society — especially when red-tagging has already been condemned by international human rights bodies and experts” such as the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The Karapatan official cited, in particular, the June 2020 report of the UN OHCHR which stated that “[f]or decades, red-tagging — labelling individuals and groups as communists or terrorists — has been a persistent and powerful threat to civil society and freedom of expression” in the Philippines, while UN Special Rapporteur Mary Lawlor noted in her recent report on the death threats and killings of human rights defenders that being tagged as “red” is a “serious threat to defenders, and that some defenders who have been so tagged have been murdered.”

“Amid the spate of killings and arrests targeting unionists and human rights defenders, Monteagudo and Badoy’s red-tagging should never be taken lightly — especially when such rhetoric has resulted in killings and human rights violations come from the top officials of the country. We call on the Senate to urgently work on passing the proposed measure to penalize red-tagging as well as measures to protect human rights defenders in the country. We cannot let red-tagging continue to lay the pretext for more violence and harm against people who are exercising their constitutionally-granted rights,” she ended.