Supreme Court recognizes “red-tagging” as a threat

On May 8, 2024, the Supreme Court (SC) issued a landmark ruling declaring so-called “red-tagging” (i.e., branding individuals or organizations as “terrorist”) as a “threat to a person’s right to life, liberty or security, which may justify the issuance of a writ of amparo.” A writ of amparo allows a person to seek various remedies from the courts, such as protection orders.

According to Human Rights Watch, the SC decision confirms that “‘red-tagging’ is a dangerous form of harassment [and] recognizes the suffering of countless victims of this government policy.” The Philippine Commission on Human Rights (CHR) emphasized in a statement that the definition of “red-tagging” cited in the SC decision “reaffirms the subjective and arbitrary nature of the practice.” According to CHR, this also recognizes the “real and immediate” danger of “‘red-tagging.”

The SC decision also granted the petition of activist and former Bayan Muna representative Siegfred Deduro for a writ of amparo. Deduro stated that he felt threatened by the Philippine military because of his alleged links to the communist armed rebel group New People’s Army (NPA). The original rejection of his writ of amparo in 2020 by a regional court was overturned by the SC ruling. The SC ordered the trial court to retry of his case and come up with a verdict within 10 days.

Since April 10, 2024, the labor organizer of the Kilusang Mayo Uno – Southern Mindanao Region William Lariosa from Bukidnon has been missing. In a statement, the CHR condemned Lariosa’s abduction and launched a quick response operation. According to eyewitness reports, the Philippine military is believed to be linked to his disappearance.

The Makabayan group in the House of Representatives condemned on May 3, 2024, the allegations of the Philippine military against Bayan-Muna Secretary General Nathanael Santiago and 33 other activists in the province of Nueva Ecija for alleged involvement in a encountering of government security forces and an alleged terrorist group in Nueva Ecija 2023. The Makabayan group called the allegations unfounded and an attempt to silence government critics.



Photo © Raffy Lerma

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