As red-tagging remains rampant, is there a way for students to be better protected, especially in our institutions and schools?
This question spurred the De La Salle University Student Government (DLSU USG) to push for an anti-red tagging policy in their university, and later, a toolkit that would allow others to set up a similar effort in their school.
Since 2020, the DLSU USG had been working on an anti-red tagging policy which will set in place avenues for the DLSU community to file complaints, and protocols for investigation when people linked to the university are found red-tagging the university’s students, faculty and staff.
“Two terms ago, we envisioned having a policy that would safeguard our rights as students and the rights of the La Salle community. This was the time when attacks against the university were worsening…We still witness microaggressions of red-tagging and even discriminiation based on political preferences. So as much as possible, we would want to address that in the most concrete way which is through the policy and the tool kit,” DLSU USG president Maegan Ragudo said in a mix of Filipino and English.
For over six months, the DLSU USG worked on writing the policy and held consultations with professors, employees and other relevant offices for the creation of the anti-red tagging policy. The policy was then endorsed by the president of the university’s faculty association to DLSU’s higher administrative councils for approval. Ragudo said the policy is now pending deliberations in the university’s academics council, which is comprised of the university’s deans, vice chancellor, and other administrators.
DLSU USG had decided to make a toolkit detailing how they crafted their proposed anti-red tagging policy after a DLSU student journalist, along with youth organizations such as League of Filipino Students and Kabataan party list, were red-tagged as members of a “communist terrorist group.” The student journalist and the groups’ names and photos were plastered on a tarpaulin by Alyansa dagiti Agkaykaysa nga Mannalon-Cagayan Valley at Canyon Park, Solano, Nueva Vizcaya, according to Student Christian Movement of the Philippines-Cagayan.
The incident became “one of the many reasons why we started the toolkit” as it was a reminder that students in other schools also face red-tagging and are in need of similar measures for protection, Ragudo said.
“We acknowledge that this tool kit needs to be contextualized according to the needs and the different circumstances in your own universities and organizations, which is why we hope that this can serve as a tool for you to put forward the rights of constituents and at the same time protect [them] from all forms of political persecution,” Ragudo said.
The tool kit features a policy guide, brief and template, among other necessary files that student councils, youth groups, and other organizations can use as a guide in crafting their own policies to protect their communities from red-tagging and other forms of attacks such as threats, arrests, among others.
Endorsed by the #CourageON: No Lockdown on Rights coalition, DLSU USG’s anti-red tagging policy toolkit was launched during the fifth episode of MovePH’s community show titled “#CourageON: Tumindig, makialam, kumilos.”
Do you also want to create an anti-red tagging policy in your school? Here’s what you need to know about DLSU USG’s tool kit:
Who can use this tool kit?
Academic institutions including all students, teachers, administrators, non-teaching faculty and staff that are exclusively enrolled or employed under the covered institution may use the tool kit as reference, should they want to set up a similar policy in their school. This applies to both college and high school institutions. Students who are currently under Leave of Absence (LOA) and Absence Without Leave (AWOL) may also use this for reference when pushing for a similar policy as long as the student’s official records are still with the school.
Other non-academic groups such as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), concessionaires outside an institution can still utilize the tool kit as a premise for their own policy proposals, though this will require further assessment from legal offices.
Where can I access the tool kit?
The tool kit can be accessed and downloaded here for free.
What are the contents of the tool kit?
The tool kit includes several files which can assist organizations in the whole policy-making process:
- Policy guide – This is a four-page briefer summarizing all procedures that should be done in the whole process.
- Policy brief – This should serve as a proposal which summarizes all necessary information such as the overview, objectives, coverage, and goals of the policy.
- Policy template – This document features DLSU USG’s recommended structure for an internal anti-red tagging policy. This also includes suggestions on specific provisions that should be written and how they can be crafted. The template can be tweaked according to the school’s needs and circumstances
- De La Salle University’s sample anti-red tagging policy – This is a copy of the anti-red tagging policy that was passed in DLSU’s administration, which people can use as a guide.
- Paralegal bust cards – Available in English and Filipino, these cards show a quick list of an individual’s paralegal rights in case of harassment, intimidation, and warrant of arrests linked to red-tagging. Content comes from human rights organization Karapatan.
Advice to students, organizations
The DLSU USG knows that the process to institutionalize an anti-red tagging policy in campus is long, and will require a lot of work. But Executive for National Affairs Policy Committee of De La Salle University Student Government Wayne Akiboshi emphasized how this is important work, as the policy can be one way to help defend our rights at least on campus.
“Even though there are limitations to the policy and tool kit we’ve proposed, the tool kit itself can serve as the backbone of policy proposals that would include concessionaires and contractual employees of an institution, and even NGOs (non-governmental organizations). So it would definitely help other institutions, other than our educational institutions,” Ragudo said in a mix of Filipino and English.
Until there is a national policy addressing this matter, Ragudo urged students to also step forward in initiating the youth to fight back against any forms of red tagging.
“Sana’y mawakasan na ang pagre-red-tag against students and universities. And at the same time, magpatuloy ang ating pagtindig laban sa state propaganda at laban sa pang-aapi sa ating mga karapatang pantao,” she added.
(Hopefully the red-tagging against students and universities would end. And at the same time, let us continue our stand against state propaganda and human rights abuses.) – Rappler.com
Waya Lao is a Rappler intern from the University of the Philippines Diliman. She is a senior taking up a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philippine Studies major in Creative Writing and Anthropology.