Statement of the Commission on Human Rights lauding the Supreme Court decision on red-tagging as a threat to the right to life, liberty, and security

Statement of the Commission on Human Rights lauding the Supreme Court decision on red-tagging as a threat to the right to life, liberty, and security

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) welcomes the decision of the Supreme Court (SC) declaring “red-tagging, vilification, labelling, and guilt by association threaten one’s right to life, liberty, or security”. The said decision also identifies the issuance of a writ of amparo as a direct remedy to address the threats being caused by these acts, therefore also covering enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings.

In a society built on the rule of law, every citizen is entitled to the protection of their fundamental rights. The SC’s decision underscores the importance of protecting these rights against any form of unwarranted harassment or intimidation. Red-tagging and similar practices not only violate the inherent dignity of individuals but also undermine the fabric of democracy and the rule of law.

The issuance of a writ of amparo in cases involving red-tagging or vilification serves as a vital mechanism to ensure accountability and provide recourse for victims of human rights violations. It empowers individuals to seek legal protection against arbitrary actions that threaten their safety and well-being.

The SC decision stems from a petition filed by Siegfried Deduro regarding the red-tagging he experienced from military officers. Deduro first filed for a petition for a writ of amparo before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) to prohibit Maj. Gen. Vinoya and his subordinates from red-tagging and harassing him. The RTC immediately dismissed his petition in October 2020 due to insufficient evidence to support allegations of red-tagging. SC determined that the initial petition “was not groundless nor lacking in merit.” [1]

It is worth noting that the SC defined red-tagging as the “use of threats and intimidation to discourage subversive activities”. This definition affirms the subjective and arbitrary nature of red-tagging as a practice. Furthermore, by referring to red-tagging as a form of threat and intimidation, the SC acknowledges the real and immediate dangers faced by those who are labelled in this manner. The decision affirms the CHR’s findings in its 2020 national inquiry on the situation of human rights defenders, which is “replete with testimonies about human rights defenders across all sectors who, prior to being killed, injured, illegally arrested, charged with trumped-up cases, or otherwise put in harm’s way, have first been red-tagged.[2]”

CHR is hopeful that the SC decision will set a strong legal precedent for court cases involving red-tagging. Most especially, we hope that this will fortify adherence to due process and the rule of law before making serious accusations and labels that endanger human rights and dignity.

As the country’s national human rights institution, CHR endeavors to continually respond to red-tagging issues. As such, another national inquiry on red-tagging is scheduled this year to further engage civil society, the government, and other relevant stakeholders in addressing this persistent issue.

CHR continues to enjoin all stakeholders, including government agencies, civil society organizations, and the public, to remain vigilant in ensuring that due process and the rule of law always prevail, safeguarding the dignity and rights of every Filipino.

[1] SC: Red-Tagging Threatens Right to Life, Liberty, and Security | 08 May 2024
[2] Report on the Situation of Human Rights defenders in the Philippines: