Press Release
April 28, 2021

Duterte urged to certify anti-red tagging bill

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon urged the President to certify as urgent a bill that he authored seeking to criminalize red-tagging to address what Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, who recently endorsed the bill, called the "problem of reckless endangerment" caused by red-tagging.

"With the opinion of the Secretary of Justice, we urge President Duterte to certify as urgent the passage of Senate Bill 2121 which we filed to punish red-tagging by state agents," Drilon said.

"The opinion of the Secretary of Justice that there is a gap in the law as red tagging is presently not a criminal offense under our laws, makes the passage of SB 2121 which we filed imperative. We laud the stand of Secretary Guevarra for pushing for the enactment of a red tagging law," he added.

Drilon, also a former justice secretary, lauded and thanked Guevarra for acknowledging that there are no sufficient and available legal remedies for victims of red-tagging and for supporting the measure.

"Victims are left without proper recourse against their perpetrators and are forced to file seemingly-appropriate-but-not-quite cases, like libel and grave threats," said Drilon.

Libel, or grave threats, he added, is not appropriate and sufficient where a state agent vilifies a person as an enemy of the state thereby impinging on the rights of that individual.

Drilon said SB 2121 seeks to fix the legal gaps, address impunity and institutionalize a system of accountability by criminalizing red-tagging and providing for penalties as deterrence thereto.

Like Guevarra, Drilon expressed serious concerns about consequences of red-tagging, if not immediately addressed, saying it endangers the life and safety of those being red-tagged.

"Red-tagging threatens the life, liberty and security of a person. As I said before, being red-tagged sometimes serves as a death warrant," he said.

Drilon made the call as he and Senate President Vicente Sotto III and 13 of their colleagues seek to censure Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. for red-tagging community pantry organizers and for calling senators "stupid" following their criticisms of Parlade's persistent red-tagging of civilians.

Drilon also called on the Senate Committee on Justice, chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon, to immediately take up the measure.

SB 2121 seeks to define the crime of red-tagging as the act of 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.

Any person found guilty of red-tagging shall be imprisoned for 10 years and shall suffer the accessory penalty of perpetual absolute disqualification to hold public office, according to the bill.

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