Concerned legislators denounce PCOO USec’s red-tagging spree

Outside the House of Representatives, progressives gather to oppose the passing of the Anti-Terror Bill (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea / Bulatlat.com)

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy defended the red tagging of progressive organizations during a public hearing on the anti-terror bill at the House of Representatives.

Badoy told members of the House Committee on Public Security and Safety and National Defense that her red tagging of organizations “does not come from thin air.”

She said she is giving those she labeled the opportunity to air their side.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate fumed, calling Badoy’s action reckless and illegal.

Zarate said Badoy has consistently maligned Makabayan bloc representatives.

Zarate moved to strike out Badoy’s statements from the minutes of the hearing, which the legislators approved.

Former Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño also took offense at Badoy’s statement. Casiño said red tagging has put activists at risk.

No official policy

The undersecretary made the verbal attack after Director Genera Alex Montegudo of National Intelligence Services Agency (NICA) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines declared that they do not have an official policy to red tag progressive organizations.

Montegudo said, however, that labeling persons or organizations as red or yellow is an “exercise of freedom of expression.”

Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago and Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite both challenged Montegudo to conduct an investigation on numerous incidents of red tagging of youth groups and unions.

Both Reps. Jonas Nograles and Kit Belmonte also registered their criticism to the practice of red tagging.
Belmonte expressed fear that the anti-terror bill might be used against political dissenters who are unjustly labeled as terrorists.

The current version of the bill allows for preliminary order of proscription, or the immediate labeling of organizations as terrorists without due process.

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