Senator Grace Poe on Tuesday urged government officials to encourage discussion and free flow of ideas that are essential for democracy to flourish, instead of resorting to “red-tagging” by labeling critics as communists.
“We have to provide democratic space for ideas to contend, for as long as it is done peacefully. I think that for political discourse to be rich, it should represent all colors in the flag—red, blue, yellow, white,” Poe said at the Senate committee hearing on national defense and security on the red-tagging of celebrities.
Poe said the Constitution extends protection even to minority ideas that many may not agree with.
She cited Article 3, Section 4 of the Constitution, which states, “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”
Poe said democracy is made richer with the exchange of ideas and should never endorse or promote violence.
“Everyone has a right to pursue an ideology and should not be penalized for harboring thoughts. But when one uses or endorses the use of violence to promote or enforce that ideology, it crosses the line and it is illegal,” Poe said.
“The problem with labels, whether one is called a communist or a fascist, is that it sweeps the message under the rug. The problem with identity marking is that it suppresses debate on an idea. Sarado na kaagad ang isip. It is an attempt to automatically disenfranchise people,” Poe said.
Reducing people to labels has encouraged political tribalism and created a culture of identification politics instead of idea politics.
“People look for the motive instead of the message. End of discussion na kaagad. Debates don’t get elevated. More often, it is a race to the gutter,” Poe said.