MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to certify as urgent a bill seeking to criminalize 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 in a statement.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra earlier said that the lawmakers’ push for the passage of a law criminalizing red-tagging “may help reduce the problem of reckless endangerment” of state forces.
He also said that it would be best that Congress enact a law clearly defining and expressly penalizing “red-tagging.”
“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 [Senate Bill] 2121 which we filed imperative,” Drilon said.
“We laud the stand of Secretary Guevarra for pushing for the enactment of a red-tagging law,” he added.
Drilon said the measure 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.
The senator, in particular, expressed serious concerns about the consequences of red-tagging, saying that this could endanger the life and safety of those on the receiving end if not addressed.
“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.
The bill, which was filed in March, 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.