Nine lawmakers on Monday filed a bill seeking to criminalize the act of “red-tagging” – or publicly labelling and naming certain individuals or groups as rebels or enemies of the state.

The authors of House Bill 9437 or “Anti Red-Tagging Act of 2021” noted that the practice was being done by government officials with the use of public funds, and had an “irreversible impact” on the victims.

In the bill’s explanatory note, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said “red-tagging has to stop because it not only vilifies individuals and organizations without credible proof but also sets them up for harassment, illegal arrest, and even assassination as what is prevalent now in the country.”

Zarate was joined by the other Bayan Muna representatives, Eufemia Cullamat and Ferdinand Gaite; Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman; Quezon City Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte; La Union Rep. Pablo Ortega; Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas; ACT Teachers’ party-list Rep. France Castro; and Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Elago.

The group specifically called out the National Taskforce to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) as the main implementer of red-tagging ever since its creation by Executive Order No. 70.

The proposed bill defined red-tagging as “the act of publicly labelling, vilifying, branding, naming, accusing or caricaturing individuals, groups, or organizations of being state enemies, subversives, armed rebels, communists, or terrorists, or fronts thereof, thereby implying or insinuating involvement or engagement in armed rebellion, acts of terrorism or any wrong doing or criminal acts.”

Red-tagging, based on the proposal, may be done through statements, social media posts, announcements, declarations, signages, streamers, placards, public fora, and other similar venues or media where any individual or groups can be publicly labelled and named rebels or enemies of the state.

If an individual or group becomes injured due to being red-tagged, the accountable public official, employee or agent will be punishable under Articles 262 to 265 (on physical injuries) of the Revised Penal Code and fined with an amount not exceeding P6,000, including damages. The penal code provisions on physical injuries call for no less than 12 years of imprisonment.

If red-tagging results in death, then the public official, employee or agent accountable for will be punished under Article 248 (Murder) of the Revised Penal Code. Murder is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

If red-tagging results in involuntarily kidnapping, the accountable public official, employee or agent will be punished under Republic Act 10353 or the “Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012.”

Any public official, employee, or agents found guilty will be disqualified from holding any public office, the bill proposed.

Back in March, Sen. Franklin Drilon filed Senate Bill No. 2121, which also seeks to criminalize red-tagging. Jamie Louise Jimeno