JUSTICE Secretary Menardo Guevarra yesterday threw the ball back to the House of Representatives on the issue of red-tagging, saying that it should pass a law if it really intends to criminalize such activity.
Guevarra made the comment after House of Representatives Deputy Speaker and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez sought the National Bureau of Investigation’s (NB) to conduct an investigation on reports of red-tagging of some community pantry organizers.
While he assured the request would be discussed with the NBI, Guevarra said lawmakers could also do their part by passing a law that would clearly define red-tagging and imposing penalties against individuals who will be found guilty of such action.
“It would be best, however, that Congress enact a law clearly defining and expressly penalizing what is loosely called today as ‘red-tagging’,” Guevarra said.
Without a law that covers red-tagging, Guevarra complaints related to red-tagging “may revolve around defamation, harassment, coercion, unjust vexation, or violation of privacy laws, but not for an offense called ‘red-tagging.”
“If the Congress is minded to criminalize red-tagging, it should enact the appropriate legislation,” Guevarra stressed.
In House Resolution 1725, Rep. Rodriguez said many community pantries, including some of those based in Cagayan de Oro City, closed because they were afraid of being red-tagged.
Several community pantries sprouted all over the country and these have become a source for food by many people.
However, some community pantry organizers have expressed fears of being red-tagged after Anna Patricia Non, the organizer of the first community pantry, was linked to the communist movement by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and the Quezon City Police District.