'Red-tagging brings violence,' Elago warns as PNP shares red-tagging content
In this 2019 file photo, Rep. Sarah Elago (Kabataan party-list) speaks at a protest against Chinese encroachment in the West Philippine Sea
File photo

'Red-tagging brings violence,' Elago warns as PNP shares red-tagging content

Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - November 24, 2020 - 3:39pm

MANILA, Philippines — Red-tagging leads to violence against its targets, security forces were reminded by progressive lawmakers on Tuesday, a repeated warning that the government has ignored . 

Speaking at the Senate hearing on the red-tagging of personalities and celebrities, Rep. Sarah Elago (Kabataan Party-list) reminded state forces of the dangers posed by red-tagging and pointed to victims of red-tagging by police and military. 

"I want to remind the [Armed Forces of the Philippines], [Philippine National Police] and [National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict] that many have disappeared, been killed, illegally arrested or slapped with trumped-up charges after being red-tagged," Elago said in Filipino in her opening statement, pointing to the deaths of human rights advocates Zara Alvarez, Ryan Hubilla and Jory Porquia, all of whom were gunned down by unknown assailants.

They had previously been accused of being communist rebels.

"Under our laws, there is no problem if one person is a 'red', but the problem with red-tagging is that this is used to assert that a target is committing a crime," she also said. 

The government has denied that it practices red-tagging, preferring to call its conflating activists with armed combatants as "truth-tagging." It has also claimed that its accusations are based on statements by former rebels and from Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Ma. Sison.

Regardless of where they said they got their information from, it is the government that has been making those accusations.

While the hearing was ongoing, official PNP channels on social media continued to share NTF-ELCAC content red-tagging students, activists, and even sitting lawmakers at the House of Representatives. 

Barely minutes after Elago's pronouncements, the pages of the Pasig City Police Station and the Lutayan (Sultan Kudarat) Municipal Police Station shared content portraying progressive lawmakers and other activists critical of the Duterte administration as "perennial liars." Other government officials who have peddled similar claims without proof were labelled in the photographed tarpaulin as "truth-taggers."

Elago herself has been the target of such red-tagging in posts by both the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Those post were defended by no less than Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. 

Former PNP chiefs Gamboa and Cascolan had vowed disciplinary action against similar "unauthorized" posts in the past, though no administrative cases have been filed over them.

READ: Dura 'Likes': PNP social media rules and what police actually post 

The Commission on Human Rights has warned that the practice of red-tagging, which has increased in 2020, "violates the constitutional guarantee of presumption of innocence and may have serious implications on the security and movement of individuals and groups involved."

Elago: Kabataan party-list nominees picked by members, not the CPP

"We, in Kabataan, hold elections of party-list nominees after thorough deliberation of all nominations coming from our national leadership and membership governed by our National Convention and subject,to Comelec rules and regulations," Elago said in her defense, rejecting claims that the party-list had ties to the Communist Party of the Philippines, membership in which has not been a crime in the Philippines since 1992.

"Despite this, the attacks that come from the Facebook pages of the PNP, AFP, and NTF-ELCAC have not stopped," she added. 

"I am here to demand accountability! Instead of accusations, threats and intimidation, listen to our voices and respond to our calls. This can make all the difference," Elago said in tears. 

with reports from Bella Perez-Rubio and Xave Gregorio

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