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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau



21 September 2023 04:00:26 PM

With budget sponsor and Committee on Appropriations Vice Chairman Rep. Ruwel Peter Gonzaga, (2nd District, Davao de Oro) effectively clarifying issues and concerns on the Judiciary and the Department of Justice (DOJ), the House of Representatives closed on Thursday the floor debates on the proposed 2024 budgets of the said agencies.

The Judiciary’s budget proposal for fiscal 2024 is P57.79-billion, inclusive of automatic appropriations.

During interpellation, Rep. France Castro (Party-list, ACT TEACHERS) asked what are the legal remedies that those who are red-tagged may avail of, “Talamak na term ito, lalo na sa mga komunista, aktibista. Hindi nga lang red tagging, (kundi) terror tagging. Meron na po bang nagawang remedy ang Supreme Court kaugnay dito sa red tagging?" She also urged the SC to initiate the definition of red tagging. “Dahil, marami ng napahamak, marami ng namatay sa mga ganitong nangyayari po,” she said.

Rep. Gonzaga explained that red tagging, as an act, is not a crime. He cited the writ of amparo as a possible remedy. Persons may avail of the writ of amparo if one feels threatened because of acts of a law enforcement agency.“Doon po sa allegation or situation, makikita kung ano pwedeng ma-entertain ng korte – Korte Suprema, Court of Appeals or the lower courts. It does not mean that just because you are tagged a member of a group, then they can follow you or conduct surveillance on you. Pag lalampas ang law enforcer (at) i-surveillance ka, then that is the time the petitioner can ask for the remedy of writ of amparo or any writ as the case maybe,” he said. Rep. Gonzaga further said that if there is a petition filed, the court would issue a show cause order.

He emphasized that the Supreme Court cannot make judicial legislation. “Lawmakers should be the ones to do the legislation, making red tagging a crime,” he said.

During the floor debates on the P34.48-billion proposed budget of the DOJ, Rep. Marissa Del Mar” “Magsino (Party-list, OFW) asked the status of the review of the guidelines of the 2023 Revised Guidelines of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT). The implementation of these guidelines was suspended last September 3, 2023 amid public concerns that the guidelines violate the constitutional right to travel. Rep. Gonzaga said the governing guideline now is Memorandum Circular 36 approved on June 15, 2015.

Rep. Magsino then asked why the review focuses only on the information and education aspects of the revised guidelines, and not on the imperative of striking a balance between the individual’s constitutional right to travel and ensuring national security. Rep. Gonzaga replied that the Bureau of Immigration is examining whether or not to reduce the discretion of its officers.