Red-tagging seen to continue even after court ruling on communist movement 

PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

PHILIPPINE government representatives involved in the anti-communist campaign are likely to continue tagging groups and individuals as terrorists despite a Manila court ruling released last week recognizing Reds as a legitimate political movement, political analysts said over the weekend.  

“It will not affect the ongoing efforts to harass movements, opposition forces, and personalities who are going against the governments,” Arjan P. Aguirre, who teaches political science at the Ateneo de Manila University, said in a Facebook Messenger chat.  

“In fact, this decision will be used by some state actors to rally and further mobilize pro-government supporters through their social media platforms.”  

On Saturday, a group of Philippine trial court judges denounced the practice of red-tagging after Manila Judge Marlo A. Madgoza-Malagar who issued the ruling was supposedly labeled as a supporter of the communist party by a former spokesperson of the government’s anti-communist task force.  

“Let us not normalize the use of violence against persons as a form of redress by being silent,” the group Hukom said in a statement.   

“And we appeal to all sectors to help us serve the public better by allowing us the space to do so without threats, pressures and improper interference,” it said.  

Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles did not immediately reply to a Viber message seeking comment.  

Michael Henry LI. Yusingco, a policy analyst, said the government will likely move past its anti-insurgency campaign and focus on its “war on terror.” 

“The government’s campaign against these groups effectively removes the political aspect of the crime and characterizes the group as merely motivated by hate and mayhem and the state and society must be protected against them at any and all cost,” Mr. Yusingco said in a Facebook Messenger chat.  

Ms. Malagar ruled in her decision that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), were not formed for the purpose of engaging in terrorism based on their platform.  

She said the group’s “armed struggle” is only a “means” to achieve its purpose. 

The case stems from a petition filed in 2018 by the Justice department under the previous administration seeking to declare the CPP-NPA as “terrorist and outlawed organizations” under the Human Security Act of 2007.  

The law has since been repealed by the Anti-Terrorist Act of 2020.  

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla told CNN Philippines last week that his department will take the case against the communist organizations before the Court of Appeals.  

CPP Chief Information Officer Marco L. Valbuena said in a statement last week that the ruling was a “pleasant surprise amid efforts to arbitrarily label groups as terrorists.” — John Victor D. Ordoñez