Editorial: Erroneous ‘truth tagging’

The problem of national security forces engaging in red-tagging is not going away. It is still present with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. now at the helm of Malacañang.

Investigations conducted by the New York City-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) showed that the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police and other national security forces have “actively used social media” to accuse individuals of being members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New People’s Army (NPA) without evidence.

HRW said red-tagging places the accused individual “at heightened risk of attack by the security forces or unidentified gunmen.”

The Philippines’ Commission on Human Rights has said that “the harms linked to red-tagging range from vilification, intrusion into a person’s right to privacy due to surveillance, harassment, to grave ones, such as unlawful arrests, enforced disappearance, and even killings.”

Police and military officials have repeatedly said that what they have been doing is “truth tagging.”

A since-deleted tweet by the Batangas Maritime Police Station used the hashtags “NinoyNotAHero” and “NinoyNPA” referring to the late senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. Never mind the assertion that Ninoy is not a hero because there are people who believe he’s not anyway. Let that be. But the claim that Ninoy was an NPA supporter without offering any concrete evidence is far from “truth tagging.”

CHR has said that “red-tagging should not be taken lightly for it has serious repercussions, including the downplaying of legitimate dissent and making persons and organizations tagged open for further harm.”

How can one believe the police’s and military’s “truth” if they cannot present facts that back up their “truth”? If their version of truth puts an accused person in harm’s way, they must be held accountable.

Erroneous “truth tagging” must be stopped.