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