Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon has filed a bill that seeks to penalize red-baiting or “red-tagging” to “fix the legal gaps, address impunity and institutionalize a system of accountability.”

Under Senate Bill 2121, or the “Act Defining and Penalizing Red-Tagging,” any act of red-tagging will be punishable by 10 years of imprisonment and a total disqualification from any government office. 

Drilon said this was a response to the government’s “public branding” that endangers the “life, liberty and security of the vilified men and women.”

“[Red-tagging] has resulted in serious human rights violations such as harassments, arbitrary arrests, detentions, and enforced disappearances,” he said.

Red-tagging, as defined by the bill, is an act of “labeling, vilifying, branding, naming, accusing, harassing, persecuting, stereotyping or caricaturing individuals, groups, or organizations as state enemies, left-leaning, subversives, communists, or terrorists as part of a counter-insurgency or anti-terrorism strategy or program, by any state actor, such as law enforcement agent, paramilitary, or military personnel.”

The Senate minority head argued that red-tagging sends a “chilling effect” not only on freedom of speech but also on truth-telling.

“In some instances, being red-tagged is a prelude to death,” Drilon said.

The senator mentioned slain activist Zara Alvarez, who, according to him, was included in the Department of Justice’s list of terrorists. Alvarez was gunned down in Bacolod City on Aug. 17, 2020. Ian Gabriel Trinidad