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Duterte not likely to certify bill vs. red-tagging as urgent —Guevarra

President Rodrigo Duterte will not likely certify the bill criminalizing red-tagging as urgent, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Thursday.

“The prerogative of president, he may or may not grant the request to certify the bill as urgent, but looking at the current priorities of this present administration, I mean the legislative agenda, it doesn’t look very probable that the president will issue a certificate for urgency,” Guevarra said on ANC.

He explained that the administration has already laid down its legislative priorities and Duterte will “most likely” follow his agenda.

“This matter of anti-red tagging bill does not fall in that legislative agenda,” Guevarra said.

On Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon urged Duterte to certify his bill criminalizing red-tagging as urgent.

The minority chief cited Guevarra’s earlier statement saying it would be best for Congress to enact a law that will give a clear definition to red-tagging.

This will reduce the “problem of reckless endangerment” of state forces, Guevarra was quoted as saying in a newspaper report.

In March, Drilon filed Senate Bill 2121 which provides definition to red-tagging and make it punishable by up to 10 years in prison as deterrence “in order to fix the legal gaps, address impunity, and institutionalize a system of accountability.”

Under his bill, the crime of “red-tagging” is defined as the act of labeling, vilifying, branding, naming, accusing, harassing, persecuting, stereotyping, or caricaturing individuals, groups, or organizations as state enemies, left-leaning, subversives, communists, or terrorists as part of a counter-insurgency or anti-terrorism strategy or program, by any state actor, such as law enforcement agent, paramilitary, or military personnel.

The Senate national defense panel earlier came out with a committee report saying there is no need for a law to penalize “red-tagging” as there were enough provisions under other judicial remedies for such cases.

But in April, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he is now inclined to support the measure seeking to criminalize “red-tagging” after the Senate employees’ union was accused of having links with communist rebels. --KBK, GMA News