Alarmed by the rising cases of red-tagging, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon proposed a measure that will make red-tagging punishable by up to 10 years in prison and disqualify people convicted of red-tagging from holding public office.
Senate Bill 2121 or the proposed “Act Defining and Penalizing Red-Tagging” seeks to criminalize red-tagging and provide for penalties as a deterrence “in order to fix the legal gaps, address impunity and institutionalize a system of accountability.”
Meanwhile, Health Reform advocate Tony Leachon on Thursday called on the government and the public to wait for the results of clinical trials on ivermectin, possibly an effective drug for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19, and then register at the FDA, the highest regulatory agency.
Until it’s approved by FDA, Leachon said, he personally believes it can’t be used as an off label indication.
Senator Christopher Go called out the individuals who are allegedly involved in VIP vaccinations in some local government units, urging them to follow the priority list in order not to jeopardize the success of the vaccination program.
Under Senate Bill 2121, the crime of red-tagging is defined as the act of labeling, vilifying, branding, naming, accusing, harassing, persecuting, stereotyping or caricaturing individuals, groups or organizations as state enemies, left-leaning, subversives, communists or terrorists as part of a counter-insurgency or anti-terrorism strategy or program, by any state actor, such as law enforcement agent, paramilitary or military personnel.
“Any person found guilty of red-tagging shall be imprisoned for 10 years and shall suffer the accessory penalty of perpetual absolute disqualification to hold public office,” the bill says.
“The passage of this bill will reverse the ‘increasingly institutionalization and normalization of human rights violations’ and put a stop on the attacks against the members of the legal profession,” Drilon said in the bill’s explanatory note.
The former justice secretary said libel or grave threats are not appropriate where a state agent vilifies a person as an enemy of the state, thereby impinging on the rights of that individual.
“The measure will likewise serve as a reminder to the government of its primary duty under the Constitution to serve and protect the people,” he said.
Drilon lamented how the continuing governmental public branding had “threatened” the very life, liberty and security of the vilified men and women.
“It has resulted in serious human rights violations such as harassments, arbitrary arrests, detentions and enforced disappearances,” he said.
He warned: “In some instances, being red-tagged is a prelude to death.”
The minority leader cited the case of a certain Zara Alvarez whose name was included in the Department of Justice’s terrorist list. Last August 17, 2020, Alvarez was fatally shot by unidentified gunmen in Negros.
Drilon also cited the assassination of Mary Rose Sancelan, the only doctor in the City of Guihulngan City who was number one on a list of 15 people accused of being a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines in Negros Oriental. Last December 2020, a lone gunman fatally shot the barrio doctor. She was the 6th person killed from that list.
Members of the legal profession were not spared from this systemic and calculated vilification as enemies of the State, according to the former justice secretary, who led his colleagues in the chamber in filing a resolution strongly condemning the killings of and violence against lawyers and judges in the country.