Gonzales’ ‘Red’ label for party-list representatives

Inquirer
Last updated 00:17am (Mla time) 12/22/2006

I’D like to comment on the suggestion of National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales to tag House leftists with the “Red” label. Gonzales obviously made the suggestion based on what he claimed as threats of the communists to take over the government.

Gonzales should know that basic to the citizens’ right to due process is the “presumption of innocence.” If, indeed, there is evidence that warrants the prosecution of these persons in a competent court, why doesn’t he or the government initiate the process? Isn’t it more dangerous if the authority to label anybody as a communist were given to Gonzales or to the government’s law enforcement or security agencies (the police and military) instead of the court?

How could an officer of the government’s security council, the police and the military hand down a fair and impartial judgment on persons whom they’ve long considered “enemies of the state” and against whom they have a deep bias? What protection could be assured for citizens given that label?

The government has a long history of labeling individuals or groups critical of it as communists. Even prestigious church organizations and media groups have not escaped such labeling, even though such an allegation has yet to be proved in a court of law.

Isn’t Gonzales, with this suggestion, actually threatening to deprive citizens of their rights, or for that matter to kill democracy? Every individual has the constitutional right to run for public office or to represent his or her sector. But does Gonzales’ proposal uphold and respect this right?

Gonzales would like to hang a Damocles’ sword not only over the heads of the Left-leaning party-list representatives or groups but also over the heads of the people who elected them to represent their sectors in the legislative body. Whether or not these individuals or groups are threats to our democracy, our democratic principle of “due process” must still be applied.

—DANILO REYES (via e-mail)

Gonzales’ ‘Red’ label for party-list representatives

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Filed under Human Rights, Letter to the editor

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