Friday, March 26, 2021

Workers support criminalization of red-tagging

The Nagkaisa! Labor Coalition welcomes Senate Bill 2121 that would criminalize “red-tagging” of labor leaders, labor organizations and other activists and people’s organizations. 

Authored by Senator Franklin Drilon, the Anti-Red Tagging Bill would penalize law enforcers, military and paramilitary personnel who label, vilify, brand, name, accuse, harass, persecute, stereotype or caricature individuals, groups or organizations as state enemies, left-leaning, subversives, communists or terrorists as part of a counter-insurgency or anti-terrorism program or strategy, with ten years imprisonment and perpetual disqualification to hold public office. 

“We laud this proposed legislation as it would add protection to the Constitutionally guaranteed rights of workers and activists to freedom of speech, of expression and the right to peaceably assemble to redress government for grievances,” Atty. Sonny Matula, chairperson of Nagkaisa! said. 

“Workers themselves, including members of Nagkaisa! have been red-tagged, harassed, given death threats via text message, ‘visited’ in the privacy of their own homes, and have received ‘invitations’ to police camps,” explained Matula. 

Many unscrupulous employers are using the current climate of impunity to bust the unions through red-tagging.

“It would certainly correct some of the major deficiencies of the Anti-Terrorism Act that has already made lives of rights defenders miserable, and even resulted in the death of a number of them, most notably, on ‘Bloody Sunday’ on March 7,” added Matula.  

Senator Drilon filed the bill two days ago. 

“We are of course still pursuing the repeal of RA 11479 or the Anti-Terror Act that has made the police and military officials bolder in unfounded red-tagging and blatant violation of human rights,” said Matula. 

“The police have red-tagged and labeled as terroristic acts legitimate trade union action such as organizing, collective bargaining, strikes, protest actions and calls for dialogue with government, especially during this pandemic,” Matula explained. 

The Anti-Terror Act has repealed the Human Security Act that used to penalize law enforcers with 10-12 years imprisonment for detaining suspected terrorists for three days without filing charges. The accused who would be proven innocent would have also received 500,000 pesos per day of unlawful detention under the old Human Security Act. 

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