The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines welcomes the proposal by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon to define and penalize red-tagging by state actors.
Although the 1987 Constitution guarantees freedom of expression, this does not give state offices and agents free license to label activists, rights workers, labor organizers and journalists as enemies of the state and terrorists.
The government is the primary duty bearer in upholding human rights. These dangerous accusations, when done by state agents as part of a so-called counter-insurgency program, are no longer private opinions and conspiracy theories but official actions and policy.
One of our directors, Manila Today editor Lady Ann Salem, is a target of red-tagging and was arrested on an invalid warrant. There have been no immediate consequences to erring parties and the judge who ordered her release has herself been linked to communist rebels.
Red-tagging has often led to harassment and violence against its targets and NUJP welcomes moves that will protect journalists from these threats and hold those making them to account.
We also reiterate our opposition to the Anti-Terrorism Act, which makes terror tagging even more dangerous, and has dire implications on the performance of our duty. While a law penalizing red-tagging is welcome, the draconian Anti-Terrorism Act violates our basic human rights, including the right to a free press.