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SC declares red-tagging a threat to life after granting writ of amparo to ex-lawmaker

By Melanie Uson Published May 08, 2024 7:16 pm

The Supreme Court (SC) has declared that red-tagging is a threat to one’s right to life, liberty, or security, which may justify the issuance of a writ of amparo. 

In a decision publicized on May 8, the Supreme Court recognized that red-tagging is a form of harassment and intimidation. It is usually done with “frequent surveillance, direct harassment, and in some instances, eventual death.” 

It added that a red-tagged person is being associated with communists or terrorists, which makes them a target of “vigilantes, paramilitary groups, or even State agents” justifying the fear for their life and security. 

This is in line with the grant of the writ of amparo for Siegfred D. Deduro, an activist who was identified as a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) by the military in 2020. 

Detailing the case, Deduro, who was also a former representative of the Bayan Muna party list, claimed that the incident happened on June 19, 2020, during the meeting of the Iloilo Provincial Peace and Order Council.  

In the said event, the military officers gave a presentation where Deduro, among others, was explicitly tagged as part of the CPP-NPA hierarchy. The said officers were under the command of Maj. Gen. Eric C. Vinoya, the Commanding Officer of the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division.

He added that the posters of him being identified as a member of CPP-NPA-National Democratic Front were placed around Iloilo City with a caption saying that they were “fooling and deceiving people” and that “they have done nothing for the country.” 

Deduro also claimed that there were instances where unidentified men followed him. 

He first sought the help of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) and filed a petition for a writ of amparo—a legal remedy for protection to any person whose right to life, liberty, or security is violated or threatened by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity.

However, the RTC dismissed the petition, saying that his allegations of red-tagging are “insufficient to be considered threats to his life, liberty, and security.” 

But the Supreme Court found first view evidence in his petition, warranting the issuance of a writ of amparo.

The high court further stressed that Deduro should not be expected to “await his own abduction, or worse, death,” before concurring that red-tagging is a threat to one’s life and security. 

It reversed the RTC’s dismissal order and required it to conduct a summary hearing on the case.