Top government executive downplays criticisms on red tagging
MANILA – A Malacanang-based official today downplayed criticisms on red tagging on progressives and activists.
Undersecretary Severo S. Catura, executive director of the Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat, said it is a very serious issue that has to be properly explained.
“The Philippine government has never red tagged anyone because it actually takes off from statements coming from Joma (Jose Maria) Sison himself who identified groups that are supportive of his organization, an organization that advocates for the violent overthrow of the Philippine government,” Mr. Catura said at the Virtual Presser hosted by the Presidential Communications Operations Office.
He defended the controversial Anti-Terrorism Law by saying “dissent, legitimate dissent, peaceful dissent, advocacy, are excluded from the law.” He explained there is is a provision in the law that is respectful of civic space “wherein people should be able to avail of, if only to have their advocacies, but we should clarify that these advocacies should be using peaceful means.”
Citing Section 4 of the controversial measure introduced and passed at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic that excludes advocacy, protest, dissent, stoppage of work, industrial or mass action, and other similar exercises of civil and political rights.
“Critics of the government often corelate that red-tagging to anti-terrorism campaign. Now, as I said, it is only the Anti-Terror Law in the world which specifies such exclusions based on the existence of civic space,” he added.
Undersecretary Catura said if people are being red-tagged, why is it there are no complaints of unjust detention, of suppression, of physical harassment that are referred to proper accountability mechanisms of the state.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court of the Philippines has set the oral arguments on the Anti-Terrorism Law on January 19,2021 over six months after the controversial measure was signed into law.
It will be recalled the Supreme Court received 37 petitions against the law. It has become one of the most challenged measures in the country’s history. (Melo M. Acuña)