Caritas Philippines calls SC ruling on ‘red-tagging’ a ‘game-changer’

May 10, 2024 - 12:27 PM
Supreme Court facade
Facade of the Supreme Court in Manila. ( Cagadas/File Photo)

The Catholic Church’s social action and justice arm has echoed the Supreme Court’s ruling that “red-tagging” constitutes “threats to a person’s right to life, liberty of security.”

Caritas Philippines hailed the major ruling as a “game-changer” for human rights defenders and a “crucial step” towards a safer nation.

“This decision is a victory for justice and a crucial step for a safer Philippines,” said its president, Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo.

“Red-tagging has instilled fear and silenced dissent for far too long. The Supreme Court’s ruling sends a clear message that such tactics will not be tolerated,” he said.

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, vice president of the national Caritas and himself a target of red-tagging, said the practice creates a “climate of fear and intimidation”.

“In my own diocese of San Carlos, I’ve seen how it can discourage people from speaking out on issues affecting the marginalized,” Alminaza said.

The high court’s decision, according to him, is a vital step towards protecting Filipinos who advocate for peace and justice.

The prelate also said that the SC decision is a vindication for the victims of red-tagging.

“For too long, individuals and communities have been silenced and ostracized based on mere accusations,” Alminaza said.

“This ruling offers a glimmer of hope and a chance for healing. We urge those who have been red-tagged to seek support and know that they are not alone,” he added.

Caritas Philippines urged the government and the military to uphold the SC ruling and ensure the safety of all Filipinos, regardless of their political beliefs.

“We call on all sectors of society to work together to foster a more tolerant and respectful environment where open discourse and dissent are encouraged,” Bagaforo said.

In its decision, the SC granted activist Siegfred Deduro, a writ of amparo, which allows a person to seek various remedies from the courts, such as protection orders.

Deduro, who is also a former Bayan Muna lawmaker, said in his petition that he was tagged by state forces as having links to the communist New People’s Army.

The SC also stressed that Deduro should not have to “await his own abduction, or worse, death” before the court recognizes red-tagging is a serious threat to life.