Senate report: No need for law vs red-tagging

A Senate panel that probed the red-tagging practices of the Philippine government has concluded that there is no need to a pass a law explicitly criminalizing the dangerous practice.

“There is no need to pass a law that penalizes red-tagging because recourse is already provided under the Revised Penal Code, special laws, and other judicial remedies," the Senate committee on national defense and security said in its 66-page report on its investigations published on Monday, February 22.

The committee arrived at the conclusion after hearing activists who have been victimized by red-tagging, which has intensified under the Duterte administration. 

The campaign has found a face in the military’s Southern Luzon command chief Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr, who also stands as the spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC). 

The Senate panel said in the same report that Parlade was harming the campaign because of his “reckless and negligent propaganda wars.”

What laws can be used?

The committee cited the following existing legal remedies in relation to the practice of red-tagging:

  1. Filing a libel, slander, or cyber-libel complaint
  2. Filing a complaint for grave threat as provided by the Revised Penal Code
  3. Filing a complaint in relation to the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act

Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate earlier filed a graft complaint against Parlade, citing Section 3(e) of the anti-graft law that punishes, among others, causing undue injury through manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or gross inexcusable negligence.

Victims of government red-tagging can also use Republic Act No. 6713, or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. They can also use the Revised Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service.

For victims who need the intervention of the courts for the protection of their rights, the Senate committee said they can file petitions for the writ of habeas corpus, the writ of amparo, and the writ of habeas data. –

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.