Red-tagging is anathema in a democratic and civilized society
PH UPR WATCH – Press Statement
13 October 2022
The Philippine Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Watch, a network of
faith-based and human rights groups engaging in the UN UPR process,
takes strong exception to the incredible remarks of Philippine
Department of Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla at the
United Nations Human Rights Committee on red-tagging as a “part of
We enjoin members of the UN Human Rights Committee and the international
community to denounce red-tagging because it has no place in a
democratic and civilized society.
Sec. Remulla’s statements were made amidst concerns of an independent
human rights expert of the Committee over the perils of red-tagging on
the lives of the people who raise legitimate issues on government policies.
His remarks, while a brazen official admission of the practice, do not
only encourage and normalize red-tagging but also brandish it as an
institutionalized and orchestrated method of the government in dealing
with perceived “political critics”.
At the end of former Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s administration, there were
801 political prisoners and 442 human rights defenders, church and
health workers, journalists, environmentalists, women, peasants and
indigenous people who became victims of extra-judicial killings in his
counterinsurgency campaign. Most, if not all of them, have been
red-tagged by the State, its agents, proxies, supporters and enablers.
Meanwhile, during Pres. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s first 100 days in office,
10 civilians, majority of which are peasants and a 9-year old girl, were
killed, four have been abducted and remain missing, and at least 37 have
been arbitrarily arrested and detained. Similarly, all of them were
red-tagged online and offline, and suffered threats and harassment
before they were killed, abducted or arrested.
Red-tagging especially of State forces and their adjuncts has dire
consequences on persons, families, organizations and communities.
Feigning ignorance on these consequences and packaging these threats as
mere exercise of freedom of expression are clear signals of a policy of
tolerance for human rights violations and impunity.
But hate speech by the State itself inciting violence on its own people
cannot be sensibly rationalized as freedom of expression because it
produces the opposite: discourage or penalize freedom of expression of
the people which the State is duty-bound to respect and protect.
Although it comes as no surprise, Sec. Remulla’s distorted view before
the UN Human Rights Committee belabor the obvious in this policy of the
past and current administration – justice will remain elusive and human
rights violations will continue unabated.
We are determined to likewise belabor the obvious – that with an
administration that has not indicated any commitment, sincerity nor
political will to commit to justice and accountability, it is imperative
to hold our ground, push back and demand for the protection of our
rights, even as we help enlighten those who are open to see through the
razzle-dazzle of demagogic rhetorics by our supposed protectors.
For reference: Philippine UPR Watch Public Information Team, 0955-6532100