Press Release
November 3, 2020

Transcript of Sen. Grace Poe's Opening Statement

Magandang hapon, I have always believed that we have to provide democratic space for ideas to contend, for as long as it is done peacefully. I think that political discourse to be rich should represent all the colors in the flag-red, blue, yellow, white. We lose that rich diversity if politics is monopolized by one color only.

While I advocate big-tent politics, I, however, believe that there is a price to pay to enter and behavior to be observed. And that is one should only pursue that ideology without resorting to armed means.

One should not be penalized for harboring thoughts, but when one uses or endorses the use of violence to promote or enforce that thought on many, then it crosses the line of illegal.

The problem with red-tagging, whether one is automatically called a communist or a fascist, is that it sweeps the message under the label of the rug.

Ang problema with "identity marking" is that it suppresses debate on an idea. Sarado na kaagad ang isip natin. It is an attempt to automatically disenfranchise people who may hold unpopular belief. And we should always remember our Constitution extends protection even to minority ideas which we disagree with.

Instead of debating, tagging is like painting the Star of David or the sign of the cross on the homes of persecuted Christians and Jews. So when people call a person Stalin or even a general, Hitler, then your personalities are reduced to labels which are unfair to both groups.

And that is the unfortunate ecosystem we are in today. Political tribalism has created a culture of identification politics instead of idea politics. We look for the motive instead of the message. DDS 'yan o Dilawan 'yan, end of discussion na kaagad. Debates don't get elevated. More often it is a race to the gutter.

Pero ang problema lang kasi sa red-tagging o kung anumang label, aside from the examples I have mentioned above, it is often a "dog whistle" that is a prelude to acts of suppression.

Parang ang playbook ay i-tag muna, tapos having cast that person as an outcast, arrest or detention follows. Parang cancel culture, Pinoy version. I will besmirch you first, and having cast you a Pariah, then you will be evicted out of the "democratic space", either by social ostracism, or worse, detention or the ultimate form of censorship, which is death.

If the mere intention of red-tagging is to marginalize, then that's par for the course. Pero if it becomes a clear and present physical danger to the tagged, diyan malaki ang mali.

And that tactic has limits, and often backfires. So, alam niyo po ngayon, siyempre, 'yung mga nagsasalita ng kontra sa pananaw natin, madalas ay mabilis ang aksyon ng awtoridad. Pero meron ding mga banyaga na ang ating malayang mga isla ay kinukuha, pero parang hindi natin masyadong tinututukan o binibigyan ng pansin at pinapalusot.

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