The Supreme Court on May 8 has declared red-tagging, vilification, labelling, and guilt by association constitute threats to a person’s right to life, liberty, or security.


In this landmark 39-page decision penned by Associate Justice Rodil V. Zalameda, the Supreme Court En Banc ruled to grant the writ of amparo in favor of Siegfred D. Deduro effectively reversing the decision of the Iloilo Regional Trial Court which first denied Deduro’s petition for writ of amparo.


“the Writ of Amparo (Rule), the petition for a writ of amparo is a remedy available 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,” it said.


Deduro is the former representative of Bayan Muna party-list and an activist. According to him, military officers under the command of Maj. Gen. Eric C. Vinoya, the Commanding Officer of the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, explicitly identified him and others as part of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) hierarchy at a Provincial Peace and Order Council meeting on June 19, 2020.


The high court says it demonstrated an understanding of the fear of red-tagged individual for their life and security.


“Being associated with communists or terrorists makes the red-tagged person a target of vigilantes, paramilitary groups, or even State agents. Thus, it is easy to comprehend how a person may, in certain circumstances, develop or harbor the fear that being red-tagged places his or her life or security in peril,” it said. 


The Court has described the damages of red-baiting too in its conclusion of the decision.


“Quite like the development of the Rule on Amparo, the damages inflicted by red-baiting evolve too: They start from the psychological before they turn physical.”


This is consistent with the long call of journalists and activists in the country and internationally that red-tagging, even in an online digital setting, may incur physical harm and threat to lives.


This is the first time that the high court has categorically defined red-tagging.


In a Rappler Talk episode, National Union of Peoples' Lawyers president Ephraim Cortez emphasized the significance of this ruling as it gave a “categorical pronouncement” to red-tagging as a threat to life, security, and liberty.


Cortez also said that this decision by the Court gives basis for criminal cases of grave threat and similar contexts even in the absence of a legislation by the legislature and judiciary.

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