Who are the top Red-taggers?

This article is available in PilipinoBisayaHiligaynon

In the past years until now, the battalions of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, units of the Philippine National Police, as well as officers of the NTF-Elcac and the Anti-Terrorism Council, have led the relentless Red-tagging, vilification and malicious implication of civilians and their organizations in the armed movement. This has long been practiced by the reactionary state but was accelerated and became more systematic under the previous Duterte regime up to the current Marcos regime. This is part of the reactionary state’s dirty counterinsurgency war against civilians.

Under Duterte, no sector, industry, organization or individual with just a hint of being critical of his rule, including critics of his criminal “war on drugs,” was spared from his threats. In 2018, under the guise of suppressing “Red October,” an alleged plot to topple his regime, Duterte carried out a widespread campaign of implicating forces and organizations that oppose his regime. Duterte and his military officers threatened thousands of media personnel, students, leaders and members of national-democratic organizations, athletes and artists.

Over the past years, various military units have conducted countless activities, forums and campaigns in the media, schools and in the countryside to defame and Red-tag. Even at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, these units were busy maliciously linking civilians to the armed movement in order to force their “surrender” and dismantle their mass organizations. In universities and peasant communities, these same military units launched various “youth summits” that were always anchored in the demonization of progressive institutions and open mass organizations.

The regime used many barrio and town officials to oppress their constituents and cover-up AFP crimes in their respective jurisdictions.

The most blatant representative of this tactic is the NTF-Elcac, which coddles the worst Red-taggers like Hermogenes Esperon Jr, Colonel Harold Cabunoc, Mocha Uson, Lorraine Badoy, Jeffrey Celiz, Salvador Panelo and many others. Recently, Bato de la Rosa led wholesale Red tagging in the senate along with traitors like Noel Legaspi, Joy Saguin, Kate Raca and others who now serve the AFP. The SMNI Network, owned by Duterte’s henchman and now fugitive Apollo Quiboloy, served as platform for the most intense and severe defamation and threats. Facebook, Youtube and other social media sites have also served as platform for their deadly vilification and threats.

Threat to life, liberty and security

In a decision penned as early as July 4, 2023, the Supreme Court declared that Red-tagging or the malicious linking of civilians to the armed movement, is a threat to the life, liberty and security of its target victims. The decision favored the petition for writ of amparo by Siegfred Deduro, former Bayan Muna Party-list representative. The decision, written by Associate Justice Rodil V. Zalameda, was made public only on May 8.

This is the first time a court has given a legal definition to the concept of Red-tagging in the Philippines. “Labeling a person ‘Red’ often comes with frequent surveillance, direct harassment, and in some instances, eventual death. Since being associated with communists or terrorists makes the Red-tagged person a target of vigilantes, paramilitary groups, or even state agents, it is easy to understand why a person may fear that being Red-tagged puts their life and security at risk,” the Supreme Court wrote.

The Supreme Court said the writ of amparo can be granted to the victims of Red-tagging, as well as to the victims of “vilification, labeling, and guilt by association because it is “easy to understand” the victim’s resulting fear.

Who are the top Red-taggers?