Drilon files bill seeking 10-year imprisonment for ‘red-tagging’

Robie de Guzman   •   March 25, 2021   •   782

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon has filed a measure that seeks to make ‘red-tagging’ punishable by up to 10-years in prison.

Senate Bill 2121 or an “Act Defining and Penalizing Red-Tagging,” which Drilon filed on Wednesday, seeks to criminalize red-tagging and provide for penalties as deterrence “in order to fix the legal gaps, address impunity and institutionalize a system of accountability.”

It also seeks to disqualify persons convicted of this crime from holding public office.

The bill defines red-tagging as the act of “labeling, vilifying, branding, naming, accusing, harassing, persecuting, stereotyping, or caricaturing individuals, groups, or organizations as state enemies, left-leaning, subversives, communists, or terrorists as part of a counter-insurgency or anti-terrorism strategy or program, by any state actor, such as law enforcement agent, paramilitary, or military personnel.”

“Any person found guilty of red-tagging shall be imprisoned for 10 years and shall suffer the accessory penalty of perpetual absolute disqualification to hold public office,” the measure stated.

“The passage of this bill will reverse the increasingly institutionalization and normalization of human rights violations and put a stop on the attacks against the members of the legal profession,” Drilon said in the bill’s explanatory note.

The senator said libel, or grave threats, is not appropriate when a state agent vilifies a person as an enemy of the state, thereby impinging an individual’s basic rights.

“It has resulted in serious human rights violations such as harassments, arbitrary arrests, detentions, and enforced disappearances. In some instances, being red-tagged is a prelude to death,” he said.

“The measure will likewise serve as a reminder to the government of its primary duty under the Constitution to serve and protect the people,” he added.

‘Not justified’: Palace nixes proposal to defund NTF-ELCAC

Robie de Guzman   •   April 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Thursday opposed calls of some lawmakers to defund the government’s counterinsurgency task force.

In a Palace briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the proposal of some senators to defund the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) is “unjustified” since it uses its funds to help develop local communities.

“Ang pagkakaalam ko po yung pondo ng ELCAC ay para po sa mga proyekto na magbibigay ng asenso at progreso sa mga lugar na mayroon pang rebelde” he said.

“So sa akin po, hindi naman po justified yan,” he added.

Roque said the task force should be allowed to perform its duties as long as there is a clear policy for its actions.

Some senators issued the call after NTF-ELCAC’s spokesperson Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. said that they are checking the background of community pantry organizers following reports that communist groups are using these initiatives to spread their propaganda against the government.

Roque also reiterated that President Rodrigo Duterte supports the community pantry initiatives and that such effort should continue to help those in need amid the coronavirus pandemic.

When asked if the Palace will restrain Parlade from issuing any more statements against community pantry organizers, Roque said he would reach out to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on the matter since Parlade reports to him.

QC gov’t assures safety of community pantry organizers amid red-tagging claims

Robie de Guzman   •   April 20, 2021

The local government of Quezon City on Tuesday assured that organizers and beneficiaries of community pantries in the city will remain safe amid allegations of red-tagging being conducted by government authorities.

In a statement, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte expressed support for the initiative and vowed to protect its organizers.

“I would like to personally assure Ms. Ana Patricia Non and other like-minded individuals that the local government of Quezon City fully supports Community Pantries,” Belmonte said.

“Indeed, these initiatives highlight the bayanihan spirit inherent in our QCitizens. The city government will therefore ensure that the organizers and beneficiaries of Community Pantries remain safe and unimpeded,” she added.

Belmonte gave the assurance after Non, the person behind the Maginhawa community pantry, said they would temporarily pause their operations for the safety of their volunteers amid the alleged red-tagging.

Belmonte said she has reached out to Non and discussed her concerns about her safety and security.

“I have requested QCPD District Director Brigadier General Antonio Yarra to conduct an investigation regarding Ms. Non’s apprehensions and earlier experiences,” she said.

“I will likewise meet with Station 9 Commander Police LtCol, Imelda Reyes, under which jurisdiction Maginhawa falls, to further discuss Miss Non’s security concerns,” she added.

The mayor said the city’s Task Force Disiplina and barangay officials have provided assistance in maintaining peace and order in the Maginhanawa community pantry.

She, however, clarified that the teams are only there to “help remind the public about observing minimum health standards and to assist in controlling any crowds that may form.”

“Task Force Disiplina is instructed to do the same for any other community pantries in the city should barangay personnel need additional assistance,” she said.

“In these difficult times, let us allow kindness and selflessness to prevail,” she added.

Drilon urges Duterte to call for special session to approve Bayanihan 3 Law

Robie de Guzman   •   April 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Tuesday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to call for a special Congressional session for the immediate passage of the proposed third Bayanihan Law or the Bayanihan to Arise as One Act that seeks to provide emergency cash assistance to families affected by the stricter protocols against COVID-19.

“I urge the President to call a special session of Congress to pass the proposed Bayanihan 3 and expand the government’s cash subsidy program amid the spike in COVID-19 cases,” Drilon said in a statement.

The senator said there is a need to provide more funding for the government’s response against COVID-19 in order to help the poor and the vulnerable sectors of society and small and medium enterprises heavily affected by the pandemic.

“Kailangan tugunan ito. Sa akin, kailangang tumawag ng special session ang Pangulo para po matugunan ito. Mag-realign ng mga items na hindi kailangan,” he said.

Drilon made the call after Malacañang said that the government will not extend additional aid for low-income families despite the one-week extension of the enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, and Laguna.

Drilon believes that affected families should continuously be provided with assistance due to difficulties they may experience amid the ECQ period.

In a radio interview, the senator also called for the realignment of some items in the General Appropriation Act to boost the government’s fund for COVID-19 response.

Under Article VI, Section 15 of the Constitution, the President is allowed to call a special session at any time.

Congress is currently on session break until May 17.

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