Supreme Court declares Red-tagging a "threat to life, liberty and security"

This article is available in Pilipino

In a decision written 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 is in line with the favorable petition for writ of amparo by Siegfred Deduro, former Bayan Muna Party-list representative. The decision written by Associate Justice Rodil V. Zalameda was only made public yesterday, May 8.

The decision is the first instance a court has given a legal definition to the concept of Red-tagging in the Philippines. The recognition is based on the reports of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

“Labeling a person ‘Red’ often comes with frequent surveillance, direct harassment, and in some instances, eventual death. As 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.

In this decision, the Supreme Court reversed the lower court’s earlier dismissal of Deduro’s petition. According to the Supreme Court, the writ of amparo can be granted to the victims of Red-tagging, as well as vilification, labeling, and guilt by association because it is “easy to understand” the victim’s resulting fear.

“The Supreme Court decision that red tagging constitutes a threat to another person’s life and security is a major legal victory and affirms our long assertion that red-tagging must be banned,” said Atty. Neri Colmenares, chairman of Bayan Muna. “Red-taggers must be warned that we will file charges against them under our criminal and civil laws.”

He said this decision should serve as a warning to Red-taggers that false accusations and defamation of activists can be charged against them and anyone who commits it can be imprisoned.

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) welcomed the decision, which it said was “long overdue.” It says this decision is very important because it clearly and without doubt categorizes Red-tagging as a “threat.”

“[This] is not a mere legally meritorious victory, nor a vindication and potential shield of human rights defenders and a tribute to those fallen and already victimized by it, but a strong slap on self-righteous red-taggers before & now,” according to NUPL.

National-democratic organizations also welcomed the decision.

“This landmark decision is a significant victory for all Filipinos who have been victims of state-sponsored harassment and intimidation,” according to Gabriela. It called the decision “a stern rebuke to the past Duterte regime and the current Marcos Jr. regime’s policy of demonizing and terrorizing its critics.”

They called for the repeal of EO 70 and the dismantling of the NTF-Elcac, which mainly red-tags and terror-tags to suppress the people’s resistance and justify widespread violation of human rights.

AB: Supreme Court declares Red-tagging a "threat to life, liberty and security"