SC on Red-tagging: Late but Welcome, Needed

May 10, 2024

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR), an NGO that empowers workers in the formal and informal sectors of the economy to claim their labor and human rights, welcomes the Supreme Court’s (SC) ruling that red-tagging violates many human rights and that activists who have been red-tagged may merit protection.

We hail the SC decision, penned by Associate Justice Rodil Zalameda, that red-tagging constitutes a threat to a person’s basic rights to life, liberty and security. It may be quite late, but the SC ruling on red-tagging is still welcome and needed. Many activists have already suffered from red-tagging and the emotional, mental and psychological anguish that it brings, as well as being harassed, arrested, detained, abducted or even extrajudicially killed.

We welcome the decision warmly and we sincerely hope that it will prevent state agencies from engaging in red-tagging. The decision speaks the truth about the situation of many labor and social activists in the country who constantly face the threat of abduction or killing. The SC decision clearly heightens the credibility of activists’ claims that red-tagging goes hand-in-hand with the human rights violations that they experience and that it exposes the perpetrators of these violations.

Red-tagging is used not only to “discourage subversive activities,” but hound unionists and threaten workers to not join unions, federations or progressive organizations; express opinions that are critical of government policies and propose policy alternatives; and join protests. Without the exercise of these rights, democracy is further imperiled.

The SC ruling should encourage courts to not hastily dismiss petitions for a writ of amparo and to immediately grant them when needed. Government agencies, most prominently the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), which have made a career out of red-tagging, should immediately be held accountable.###