Lawyers' group says red-tagging punishable by law | Inquirer News

Lawyers’ group says red-tagging punishable by law

/ 10:39 PM July 21, 2022


MANILA, Philippines — A group of lawyers claimed that red-tagging, contrary to assertions of past administration officials, can be punishable under Republic Act No. 9851 or the local law penalizing crimes against the international humanitarian law and against humanity.


 In its reply-affidavit filed before the Office of the Ombudsman on Thursday, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) countered the stand of former National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) officials that complaints against them are baseless since red-tagging is not a crime.

NUPL claimed that Section 6 of R.A. No 9851 or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity can be used to punish red-taggers, as it is persecution against political groups.


“Red-tagging cannot be regarded a ‘legally non-existent act or crime’ just because it is not expressly defined in our penal statutes as a felony or an offense,” NUPL said in their 27-page affidavit.

“Under Section 6, RA 9851 […] widespread or systematic red-tagging or red-baiting may be considered as the crime of persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender, sexual orientation or other grounds […],” the group added.

NUPL also claimed that the former NTF-ELCAC officials are ‘spinning’ the Supreme Court’s ruling in Zarate, et al. vs. Aquino, et al. by using a part of the decision which said that merely labeling a group as a communist would not constitute an actual threat.

“Respondents are trivializing the pernicious effects of red-tagging by misrepresenting and spinning the Supreme Court’s ruling in Zarate. In paragraph 34 of their Joint Counter-Affidavit, Respondents claim that in Zarate, the Court said: ‘mere labeling of a group as a communist front is not an actual threat to one’s right to life, liberty or security’,” NUPL said.

“But what the Court really and repeatedly said is this: ‘Mere membership in (petitioners’) organizations or sectors cannot equate to an actual threat that would warrant the issuance of a writ of amparo’,” it claimed.

NUPL is replying to the NTF-ELCAC officials’ joint counter affidavit regarding the complaints filed by NUPL before the Office of the Ombudsman last December 2020.

The lawyers’ group accused former NTF-ELCAC officials, namely former national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon, retired military general Antonio Parlade Jr., and former undersecretary Lorraine Badoy of committing grave misconduct and grave abuse of authority when it allegedly linked NUPL to communist rebels.


Last July 2, the Office of the Ombudsman asked Esperon, Parlade, and Badoy to answer NUPL’s accusations. 

In the joint counter-affidavit of the former NTF-ELCAC officials, copies of which were also forwarded by NUPL to, they stressed that there is no legal definition as to what would constitute red-tagging, and what penalties follow if they are found guilty of it.


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TAGS: lawyers, NUPL
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