CHR-7 Chief: Freedom of expression is guaranteed in a democratic society
CEBU CITY, Philippines – An official of the Commission on Human Rights in Central Visayas (CHR-7) has expressed his concern on the red-tagging of groups or individuals who have publicly expressed their dissatisfaction on the government and warned the public of the threats this pose.
“In a democratic society like ours, the freedom of expression has been guaranteed to all, and is not lost simply because the right is expressed contrary to the government’s position,” Lawyer Arvin Odron, the CHR-7 director, said in a message sent to CDN Digital.
“We cannot also trivialize the effects of red-tagging, as records would show, most of those who were red-tagged became victims of indiscriminate attack, not only against their privacy and security, but worst, against their most fundamental right – the right to life. One should not be tagged as “enemy of the State” simply because he or she is expressing a different view with that of the government,” he added.
Red-tagging refers to the blacklisting of individuals or groups that are critical of or those who do not fully support the actions of a current government administration.
Odron said the practice of red-tagging is now becoming a cause for concern.
He urged the public to remain vigilant. At the same time, he encouraged people to call on the authorities to ensure that laws protecting human rights are strictly enforced for a “meaningful enjoyment of life.”
In a statement released on May 12, the University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) 12 denounced the online Red-tagging of its students for their election-related statements.
“They have been carelessly and unfairly branded as rebels for simply standing up for their convictions. These baseless accusations against our students are an affront to their basic right to exercise freedom of expression and opinion,” reads a portion of the statement of UPV Chancellor Clement Camposano.
Law enforcers are also keeping an eye on progressive groups joining recent election-related rallies in Cebu and other parts of the country.
On May 10, several progressive groups, including students, held a demonstration in front of the Cebu Provincial Capitol to dispute the partial and unofficial results of the May 9 national and local elections, particularly the over 3o million votes garnered by presumptive President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
Another protest-rally was held in downtown Cebu City on May 13 by progressive groups including Anakpawis, BAYAN, and Kabataan.
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