Bishops, activists laud landmark SC ruling on red-tagging

Bishops, activists laud landmark Supreme Court ruling on red-tagging

At least two Catholic bishops and several leaders of activist organizations lauded the Supreme Court’s landmark decision recognizing Red-tagging, or the act of branding activists and critics as communist rebels, as a threat to Filipinos’ fundamental rights.

“This decision is a victory for justice and a crucial step for a safer Philippines. Red-tagging has instilled fear and silenced dissent for far too long,” said Kidapawan Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, president of the Catholic charity Caritas Philippines.

Bagaforo is also chair of the Episcopal Commission on Social Action, Justice and Peace of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.


“The Supreme Court’s ruling sends a clear message that such tactics will not be tolerated,” the prelate said of the high court’s ruling on the appeal of former Bayan Muna Rep. Siegfred Deduro, who sought, and was ultimately granted, a writ of amparo from alleged military harassment.


Caritas Philippines vice president and San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, who had himself been Red-tagged, spoke of his personal experience about the dangers of such practice.

Climate of fear

“Red-tagging creates a climate of fear and intimidation,” he said. “In my own diocese of San Carlos, I’ve seen how it can discourage people from speaking out on issues affecting the marginalized.”

The high court ruling, for the first time, acknowledged Red-tagging as a real threat to civil and human rights and laid the ground for the issuance of more writs of amparo, as well as writs of habeas data, to similarly situated individuals.

It created the peremptory writs of amparo and habeas data in 2007 to address extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances.

However, the ruling does not extinguish the possible liabilities of individuals charged with criminal offenses, including murder, illegal possession of firearms, as well as those arising from the country’s antiterror law.

While the high tribunal overturned the Iloilo City Regional Trial Court’s (RTC) initial dismissal of Deduro’s amparo petition, it also ordered the lower court to rule on the merits of his appeal within 10 days.


“I am glad that the Supreme Court en banc decided in favor of my petition for the writ of amparo, which was earlier dismissed by the RTC Judge of Iloilo,” Deduro said in a statement.

But human rights lawyer Jose Manuel Diokno, chair of the Free Legal Assistance Group (Flag), saw the need to take the high tribunal’s ruling “one step further” by incorporating the ruling in the rules on the writs of amparo and habeas data.

Lawyer’s suggestion

“Flag calls upon the executive department and the Civil Service Commission to direct all public servants not to engage in Red-tagging and to punish those who persist in committing this pernicious practice,” Diokno said.

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Despite the gaps, activist leaders collectively praised the high court’s ruling.

TAGS: bishops, red-tagging

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