“We believe that red-tagging is the most dangerous form of disinformation as it has serious repercussions on life, liberty, reputation and privacy”
Celebrities, members of the opposition, including Vice-President Leni Robredo and those from the Makabayan bloc in Congress, as well as ordinary individuals (they include me) have been tagged by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) as communists or enemies of the state for speaking their minds or pursuing our advocacies.
In a collective response, nearly a dozen complaints have been filed against Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy, NTF-ELCAC spokesperson in the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) and Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), asking for her suspension and dismissal as a government official in the OMB and the revocation of her medical license in the PRC.
The complainants include politicians, activists, human rights workers, parents of community pantry organizers, student leaders, religious, nurses, doctors, and other health workers.
Spearheading this effort to make Badoy and the NTF-ELCAC accountable is the Movement Against Disinformation (MAD).
We believe that red-tagging is the most dangerous form of disinformation as it has serious repercussions on life, liberty, reputation and privacy.
It is like putting a bullseye target on the back of the victims and say they are legitimate game for political persecution, which often results in prosecution, detention, encroachment on their right to privacy and even outright assassination.
Red-baiting has a chilling effect on those who may not agree, oppose, or do not subscribe to the ideological and political stance taken by those in power.
It in effect tells them not to criticize the powers that be or engage in advocacies frowned upon by the present dispensation if they do not want to be branded enemies.
Red-tagging as a practice is repulsive in a sense that it tramples upon every conceivable right protected by the constitution, rights which are so basic, without which the normal functioning of society cannot be possible.
Unsupported and baseless accusations as enemies of the state may be a staple in an authoritarian government but not in a democracy.
It is no wonder there is a collective sigh of relief when, in an interview, incoming National Security Adviser, Dr. Clarita Carlos, expressed her disapproval of this vile practice of red-tagging, saying in effect that nothing can be gained from it, and the Marcos administration would instead focus on addressing the root causes of insurgency.
In a statement, the Movement Against Disinformation fully supports this view of Dr. Carlos to stop “red-tagging,” and to instead use the resources of the government to “address inequalities and lack of opportunities.”
We agree that red-tagging sows fear and terror in the citizenry, especially in those who have been baselessly tagged by government instrumentalities as enemies of the state, and stymies them into silence or submission, prohibits the exercise of rights and privileges afforded by our Constitution.
It endangers not only the safety and lives of those who have been red-tagged but also their families and the communities.
We concur with Dr. Carlos that red-tagging is a “lazy way to identify people . . . It doesn’t produce anything, it doesn’t even explain you as a person…”
For MAD, these brave statements by Carlos, who thankfully will be the Vice-Chair of the Anti-Terrorism Council, give us a glimpse of what the focus of this incoming leadership would be.
Her practical advice to direct the government’s energies on producing, rather than destroying, signals a stop to the incessant red-tagging that has plagued the strategy of the outgoing administration to suppress legitimate dissent.
Personally, Undersecretary Badoy, as she has done with others, has carelessly accused me of “probably” being a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
In a two-hour interview aired in SMNI, she admitted that she had no evidence I was a communist but then pivoted to say my actions as a human rights lawyer and a long-time champion of indigenous peoples’ rights and climate and environmental justice made her conclude I was a communist.
I am sure that Dr. Carlos, whom I have worked with for decades as a fellow UP professor, charter change advocate, and now co-faculty member at the San Beda University Graduate School of Law, would immediately dismiss Badoy’s accusations.
Aside from having served four of our post-EDSA presidents in various capacities (including in the peace processes in Mindanao and with the National Democratic Front), I also teach at the National Defense College of the Philippines and have many military and police officials as students and mentees. They will come to my defense.
As MAD observed in its statement issued on the eve of Independence Day, trust is important in nation building.
By removing red-tagging as a political tool to gag the opposition, the government restores that modicum of trust needed to spur genuine dialogue across political divide.
MAD believes that, more than ever, inclusion not alienation, collaboration not division, are needed to achieve a shared vision for this country.
That shared vision includes an all-of-nation approach against red-tagging.
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