Supreme Court Approves Red-Tagged Ilonggo Ex-Solon’s Writ of Amparo Petition, Declares Red-Tagging a Threat to Fundamental Rights

Supreme Court Approves Red-Tagged Ilonggo Ex-Solon’s Writ of Amparo Petition, Declares Red-Tagging a Threat to Fundamental Rights

ILOILO CITY, May 8 – In a comprehensive 39-page judgment, the Supreme Court has granted a Writ of Amparo in support of Siegfred Deduro, an Ilonggo activist and former Bayan Muna Partylist representative. This decision was penned by Associate Justice Rodil Zalameda last July 3, 2023, and was made public on May 8, 2024.

“The Supreme Court found prima facie evidence in Deduro’s petition warranting the issuance of a writ of amparo. It ruled that red-tagging, vilification, labeling, and guilt by association constitute threats to a person’s right to life, liberty, or security,” said the Court.

This decision was made after Deduro filed a petition and claimed that on June 19, 2020, during a meeting of the Iloilo Provincial Peace and Order Council, he was explicitly identified by military officers under the command of Maj. Gen. Eric C. Vinoya of the 3rd Infantry Division as part of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) hierarchy. Deduro also claimed that he was red-tagged multiple times through posters that were put up in different parts of Iloilo City with his image labeled as a criminal, terrorist, and member of the CPP-NPA-NDF. Furthermore, Deduro also said that there were instances where unidentified men surveilled and followed him.

After the said petition was first dismissed by the Regional Trial Court claiming that red-tagging is “insufficient to be considered threats to his life, liberty, and security”, Deduro sought the high court. “As Deduro’s petition was not groundless nor lacking in merit, the RTC should not have dismissed the case,” said the Supreme Court. “One form of such threats is the act of red-tagging, acknowledged by international organizations as a form of harassment and intimidation. Labeling a person “red” often comes with frequent surveillance, direct harassment, and in some instances, eventual death,” the court added.

In a statement, Deduro expressed his satisfaction with the Supreme Court’s decision. “I am glad that the Supreme Court en banc decided in favor of my petition for the Writ of Amparo, which was earlier dismissed by the RTC Judge of Iloilo,” said Deduro. “This clearly refutes the National Task Force on Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict’s (NTF-ELCAC) assertion that their rampage of red-tagging of activists is a benign exercise of “truth- tagging”,” he added.

Deduro expressed hope that the landmark Supreme Court ruling would benefit thousands of other activists and political dissenters, like himself, who are victims of political persecution and red-tagging. However, he also voiced his ongoing fear for his life, liberty, and security amidst the continuing impunity in extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and illegal arrests and detentions on trumped-up charges in the country.

A writ of amparo is a remedy available to any person whose right to life, liberty, or security is violated or threatened by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity./PT


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