Red-tagging in the Philippines targets women more than men – study

Lian Buan

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Red-tagging in the Philippines targets women more than men – study

RED-TAGGED WOMEN. Activists Hailey Pecayo, Dyan Gumanao, Jonila Castro and Jhed Tamano are all red-tagged female young activists, who shared their experiences with state human rights violations, during the #ShePersists: Women Speak Out for Rights forum on November 27, 2023.

Jire Carreon/Rappler

The Ateneo Human Rights Center also identifies state security officials as 'primary aggressors'

MANILA, Philippines – More women had been red-tagged than men in the Philippines in the last six months, according to a new study of the Ateneo Human Rights Center (AHRC).

AHRC is the latest body to conduct its own inquiry into the country’s red-tagging problem, and their documentation shows that of the 456 incidents of red-tagging they monitored from January to June 24, 2024, there were more women victims.

Although most of the victims’ genders were unidentified in their monitoring, their data shows 16.1% of the targets were female, and only 5.7% were male.

“Many women activists reported being threatened with rape or other forms of sexual assault. This suggests that red-tagging might also be used as a tool for gender-based persecution, reflecting deeper societal biases and the vulnerability of women,” said the AHRC’s Anti-Red Tagging Monitoring Project.

Two United Nations Special Rapporteurs who visited the Philippines recently identified red-tagging – the act of labeling dissenters as communists or armed communist rebels – as a pressing problem for the country’s civic space.

Ian Fry, the former UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change; and Irene Khan, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Opinion, had both recommended to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. the dissolution of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) because of its red-tagging activities.

Members of the NTF-ELCAC, a creation of former president Rodrigo Duterte, had red-tagged people in their official capacities. Former officials of the task force continue to red-tag, including Lorraine Badoy who was already sanctioned with contempt by the Supreme Court for red-tagging a judge.

Marcos had recently said that he does not believe that the state is the perpetrator of red-tagging.

AHRC’s red-tagging study says “the primary aggressors are the PNP [Philippine National Police], AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines], and NTF-ELCAC.”

“While PNP through the municipal/city police stations do the red-tagging most often, it is platforms that distribute the content to more social media users,” said the study.

A National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) study released in May also found that government officials were behind most of the red-tagging attacks against members of the press.

The Supreme Court had finally legally defined red-tagging as the labeling of people as communists, and called it a threat to life and

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.