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CHR reminds gov’t: Dissent protected by law, stop red-tagging activists, journos

/ 06:14 PM May 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has reminded government officials to refrain from red-tagging activists and journalists, as several groups and personalities were supposedly harassed and accused of being communist rebels.

CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said on Friday that they have received reports that organizations such as the Union of Journalists of the Philippines (UJP), the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, and former National Union of Journalists in the Philippines chair Rowena Carranza-Paraan were at the receiving end of threats for alleged affiliation with the communist movement.

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“Time and again, we have cautioned, particularly the government, on the dangers of haphazardly labeling of persons and groups without sufficient proof. Red-tagging is a slippery slope as it may trigger a number of human rights violations, including harassment, unlawful arrests, torture, and threats to life,” De Guia said in a statement.

“We wish to remind the government that expressions of dissent and the freedom to speak on legitimate concerns without fear of reprisal are guaranteed rights by the 1987 Constitution as a feature of a democratic country,” she added.

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The issue stemmed from allegations made by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Deputy Chief of Staff for civilian operations Maj. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), that several groups created by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) were chiming in on the ABS-CBN shutdown issue.

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Posted by National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict on Tuesday, May 12, 2020

The University of the Philippines’ College of Mass Communication said that these allegations from Parlade — which includes UJP — should make him and the NTF-ELCAC responsible for anything bad that may happen to their student-members.

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Posted by UP College of Mass Communication on Wednesday, May 13, 2020

While red-tagging, or quickly labeling critics as part of rebel groups, has been noted as a thing of some of President Rodrigo Duterte’s supporters, other administration officials have also taken part in it.

Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Deputy Administrator and pro blogger Mocha Uson have been slammed several times for red-tagging organizations with legitimate dissent.

Research think-tank Ibon Foundation on the other hand has filed complaints Parlade and other NTF-ELCAC members Presidential Communications Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy, and National Security Adviser Germogenes Esperon Jr. for the same issue.

CHR pointed out that the repeal of the Anti-Subversion Law meant that even membership in the CPP itself — directly linked to the New People’s Army — is not illegal.

“The challenge before those who accuse is to prove allegations of any illegal act before fair and competent courts. Otherwise, peddling unfounded accusations is a practice of sowing disinformation, which should not be condoned,” De Guia said.

“We call on the government to extend their vigilance against peddlers of so-called ‘fake news’ in all aspects of governance and ensure equal protection of all persons under our laws,” she added.  “The role then of the government is to uphold its mandate for truth, fairness, and justice for all.”

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TAGS: Activist, CHR, Commission on Human Rights, communist rebels, Jacqueline de Guia, journalists, Maj. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, National Union of Journalists in the Philippines, NTF-ELCAC, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, Philippine news updates, red-tagging, Rowena Carranza Paraan, UJP, Union of Journalists of the Philippines
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