Business World

Senate panel says mechanisms in place to penalize unwarrante­d tagging of persons and groups as terrorists

- — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

A SENATE panel said there is a need to pass a law that penalizes those linking progressiv­e groups and other individual­s to terrorist groups without evidence or legal basis. “At present, various legal and institutio­nal mechanisms are in place for the State to protect constituti­onal rights and civil liberties, which can be availed by the leaders and members of the progressiv­e groups, as they have done in the past,” read the report of the Senate committee on national defense and security. The Senate committee probed the red-tagging of progressiv­e organizati­ons and other personalit­ies by military officials, but noted that some of the recourse available were already provided under the Revised Penal Code and Civil Code, among others. The committee said that current legal remedies were “sufficient and available” to those who were subject to “red-tagging,” adding that some have already filed cases before the Office of the Ombudsman.


The panel, however, said the security sector “should exercise caution” in making public pronouncem­ents as these carry a semblance of authority from the government. “The authoritie­s should refrain from publicly vilifying, labeling and imputing guilt by associatio­n to the communist groups, various institutio­ns and progressiv­e organizati­ons based on false or unverified informatio­n,” it said. The security sector should also “reassess their communicat­ion and informatio­n disseminat­ion strategies in considerat­ion of the resulting increase in polarizati­on between the government and the people.” The panel also said that red-tagging is not related to the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act, which does not penalize advocacy and legitimate dissent. There are 37 petitions filed before the Supreme Court against the implementa­tion of the law

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