CHR echoes UN expert’s call to stop red-tagging

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) again called on the Philippine government to stop red-tagging after another United Nations (UN) expert noted its practice by Philippine security forces.

Reacting to UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression Irene Khan’s recommendations at the end of her 10-day official visit earlier this month, the country’s national human rights institution said it reaffirms its call to the government to put an end to the practice.

“We must remain mindful that red-tagging is a human rights violation on its own and may lead to a multiplicity of other acts of violence which put the welfare of the general public at risk,” the CHR said in a statement today.

The CHR added it supports Khan’s recommendation for at least a review of National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC)’s mandate, reminding the government’s counter-insurgency mechanism the people’s right to public governance must be protected as part of democracy.

In her actual statement however, Khan categorically said she recommends “that the Task Force be abolished.”

Khan also said, “…there is clear evidence that ‘red tagging’ and ‘terror tagging’ as some persons have called them, are being practised by security forces as part of their counter-terrorism strategy.”

Media security office also needs review

The CHR added it echoes Khan’s call for the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) to also review its approach in viewing and investigating violence committed against journalists.

The Commission said it hopes investigations concerning media-related violence are attended to with a keen eye, considering that journalists face heavier safety risk.

The PTFoMS however earlier rejected Khan’s recommendations, alleging the UN expert had prejudged the government before conducting her official investigations.

In his program on a government radio station last February 3, PTFoMS executive director Paulino Gutierrez said the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. government welcomed Khan despite fears she would still criticize the government on its human rights record.

“Despite the preparations made by our group for her arrival, we accepted the fact that she would severely criticize the Philippines. In other words, we welcomed her with eyes wide open,” Gutierrez said in a mix of Filipino and English.

“If Ms. Khan thought she could fool and make our government turn and jump hoops, despite us exchanging sweet words, she is mistaken,” Gutierrez also said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)