MANILA, Philippines – After multisectoral groups decried possible irregularities surrounding the 2022 Philippine polls in front of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) office on Tuesday, May 10, online red-tagging reports against the protesters alarmed universities and various organizations.
University and college students have been the target of online red-tagging, which has been amplified since the creation of the government task force against communists during the Duterte administration.
In an official statement released on its social media pages on Thursday, May 12, the University of the Philippines Visayas strongly condemned red-tagging that targeted most of its students, saying “The irresponsible comments hurled against them in various group chats compromise their security and instill fear.”
In light of the recent incidents, some student councils such as the De La Salle Health Sciences Institute Institutional Student Council (DLSMHSI-ISC) and the Sanggunian ng mga Mag-aaral ng mga Paaralang Loyola ng Ateneo de Manila have established a help desk to entertain the online red-tagging concerns of their students.
“We firmly believe that amidst this crisis, we will remain to uphold the values of our founder, to exercise our democratic rights, and to always stand for the truth,” DLSMHSI-ISC said in a Facebook post.
In a Facebook post on Thursday, the League of Filipino Students also criticized the efforts to intimidate students who joined the gathering and strongly denied that their participation would translate to involvement with communist rebels.
This was echoed by human rights group Karapatan, who also questioned the “red-tagging overdrive” of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict that targeted academic walkout statements.
“It is delusional for these people to expect that the possible ascension to Malacañang of families of thieves and mass murderers will be morally and politically acceptable for those who have been victimized by and who struggled against political repression and plunder throughout the years,” Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay said.
In separate Facebook posts on Thursday, both the Kabataan Partylist and the National Union of Students of the Philippines also slammed the online red-tagging over the peaceful protests and described it as a disinformation scare tactic.
“It is meant to divide and dissuade youth from exercising their constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of expression and assembly, to translate virtual outrage into street protests with more tangible political impact,” Kabataan said.
– Jose Orlando Polon/Rappler.com
Jose Orlando Polon is a Rappler intern from De La Salle Lipa. He is a senior taking up Bachelor of Arts in Communication, Major in Socio-Cultural and Behavioral Communication.