We commend Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra for defending the Bill of Rights in the 1987 Constitution.
We’re talking about his recent statement that Red-tagging puts labeled people or groups in danger, so, instead of publicly tagging them as connected to armed groups, he believes the government should file charges against them if they have solid evidence.
“What is the point of labeling people? If there is evidence against them, (take) the necessary legal action,” Guevarra said.
Guevarra said if the person or group is Red-tagged solely because of their political leanings but no concrete evidence is offered, “it is better not to talk about it because you are putting in danger certain people who are just vocal about their own political views.”
The Justice Secretary has conveyed the DOJ position to the National Task Force on Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) as he believes that labeling persons and organizations is not within the mandate of the adhoc body.
“The main ideal of NTF-ELCAC is what we call the whole-of- nation approach. In order to eliminate or reduce insurgency, we should help them [communist members] rehabilitate themselves. It is a way of attracting them to go back to the folds of the law. We should not engage them in combat until they are completely decimated,” Guevarra said.
We agree completely.
Guevarra’s position coincides with that of incoming National Security Adviser Clarita Carlos, who had earlier expressed disapproval of Red-tagging: “Perhaps let’s not use labels. We gain nothing if we keep on labeling people.”
The position of Guevarra and Carlos may be congruent, but we’re not sure if incoming Justice Secretary Crispin Remulla, or the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, for that matter, share their view on this controversial issue.
During the campaign for the May 9 election where a Cavite rally by the Robredo team managed to attract thousands, news reports said Remulla noted that members of the Anakpawis party-list group had been spotted among the rally organizers and participants, and warned that other rallies by the opposition may well be infiltrated by the Left as well.
If this is a portent of things to come, with no less than President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. having expressed support for the continuation of the work of the NTF-ELCAC, we seriously doubt that Red-tagging will be a thing of the past, but could even intensify as critics of the new administration – already wary of Marcos Jr.’s stand on various issues – are not expected to keep quiet for long.