CHR hails Supreme Court decision vs red-tagging

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) praised a recent Supreme Court decision that declared red-tagging, vilification, labeling, and guilt by association as significant threats to the fundamental rights to life, liberty, and security of individuals.

This landmark ruling, stemming from a case involving Siegfried Deduro, who was allegedly subjected to red-tagging by military officials, underscores the gravity of such accusations and the chilling effect they have on personal freedoms.

Deduro had initially sought legal protection through a writ of amparo from the Regional Trial Court (RTC), which was dismissed in October 2020 citing insufficient evidence.

However, the Supreme Court later validated the legitimacy of Deduro’s concerns, emphasizing that his claims were neither “groundless nor lacking in merit.”

In its decision, the Supreme Court emphasized that the issuance of a writ of amparo serves as a crucial legal remedy for those threatened by acts of red-tagging and similar practices. This protective measure aims to hold accountable those who engage in such behaviors and provide a recourse for victims to safeguard their rights against unwarranted harassment or intimidation.

The court further elaborated on the nature of red-tagging, defining it as “the use of threats and intimidation to discourage subversive activities,” which highlights the subjective and arbitrary application of such labels that can endanger lives.

The CHR noted that this decision is a significant affirmation of the findings from its 2020 national inquiry into the situation of human rights defenders in the Philippines.

The report was “replete with testimonies” about the severe consequences faced by individuals who had been red-tagged, ranging from extrajudicial killings to illegal arrests and trumped-up charges.

Looking forward, the CHR hopes that this ruling will serve as a robust legal precedent that reinforces the importance of due process and the rule of law in cases involving serious accusations that could jeopardize human rights and dignity.

The decision is expected to play a critical role in subsequent legal actions and policies concerning the issue of red-tagging in the Philippines.

Moreover, the CHR is planning another national inquiry on red-tagging this year, aiming to further engage civil society, government, and other stakeholders in addressing this ongoing issue.

The initiative reflects the CHR’s commitment to upholding human rights and ensuring that all parties remain vigilant in maintaining due process and the rule of law across the country.

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