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CLD Condemns Red-Tagging and the Culture of Impunity

Red-tagging has no place in a democracy and in civilized society. The culture of impunity must be reversed by serious investigations, transparent reporting and the prosecution of guilty parties. Statements encouraging violence should cease.

The worst tyrants in history, including Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin, three generations of North Korean dictators and Ferdinand Marcos resorted to labelling critics and people they detested as enemies of the state. This led to millions of cases of arbitrary imprisonment, torture, and murder.

The Center for Liberalism & Democracy (CLD) expresses its concern over the continued rise in incidences of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) and involuntary disappearances of activists and alleged activists after being red-tagged or named in a “narcolist” by government or groups associated with President Rodrigo Duterte.

CLD expresses its indignation over the assassination of Dr. Mary Rose Sancelan, the City Heath Officer of Guihulngan City in Negros Oriental, and her husband Edwin Sancelan last December 15, the latest in a series of murders that have included activists, journalists, lawyers, prosecutors, judges, mayors and vice mayors. The couple were gunned down after an anti-communist vigilante group accused the physician of having links to the New People’s Army.

As Rep. Jocelyn Sy Limkaichong (LP, First District, Negros Oriental) stated, “No cause can justify the brutality of taking the life of a physician whose sworn duty is to protect the lives of others… With her passing, there will be an untold number of people who would be deprived of the care that one devoted doctor could have given.”

While government has the right and responsibility to uphold national security, it must do so in accordance with the Philippine Constitution and the country’s laws, and also in observance of international treaties to which the Republic is a signatory, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Section 1, Article III: Bill of Rights of the 1987 Philippine Constitution is unequivocal in enshrining the rule of law, human rights and due process: “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.”

In the name of liberalism and democracy, CLD asserts that the freedoms of speech, organization and assembly may not be curtailed unless their exercise infringes on others’ rights as established by a court of law. The Anti-Subversion Law, RA 1700, was repealed by RA 7637 in 1992. Mere membership in an organization like the Communist Party of the Philippines or National Democratic Front – in other words, simply being “Red” – is not a crime.