EDITORIAL - Not part of the democratic process

The Freeman
EDITORIAL - Not part of the democratic process

Red-tagging is part of the democratic process, or so says Philippine Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla.

Speaking before the United Nations Human Rights Committee meeting in Geneva recently, Remulla also said that the act is merely a form of criticism.

“If a person can dish out criticism, they should be able to take criticism, especially if they are supporting those that are promoting the death of our people, those who are promoting the death of our policemen, those who are promoting the death of civilians and young people and even children. That for me is probably the essence of democracy,” Remulla said.

The problem is that it’s not just people who criticize the government who are being red-tagged. It’s not just people who are actually promoting the death of our policemen, civilians, young people and even children who are being red-tagged. Community pantry organizers are red-tagged. People who work to advance the cause of farmers are red-tagged. Those who advocate for human rights are red-tagged. Actresses who speak on behalf of women’s rights are also red-tagged. Judges who are only doing their job are also red-tagged.

Let’s say someone does criticize the government, that does not immediately mean he or she is supporting the CPP-NPA-NDF or other groups that want to overthrow the government.

For someone who is supposed to be justice secretary, Remulla seems to have a twisted sense of what democracy is.

There is nothing democratic about red-tagging a person. If nothing else red-tagging is an instant trial by publicity. The one doing the tagging doesn’t even have to present any substantial proof that the one being tagged is supporting the insurgency or somehow constitutes a threat to the state. Someone red-tagged is immediately considered guilty.

Yes, red-tagging is a form of criticism, true. But it goes beyond that. It’s in fact more of a form of harassment because it opens someone up to attacks from almost everybody else. It encourages others to join in and cast doubt on the character of the person. It paints a big target on his or her back.

As Justice secretary, Remulla should be able to tell the huge difference when someone is merely being criticized and when someone is being targeted.

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