Red-tagging not freedom of speech, says lawyers’ group

Published December 5, 2020, 1:25 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

An organization of lawyers on Saturday, Dec. 5, said red-tagging cannot be called freedom of speech.

“Red-tagging is basically hate speech,  that is,   false statements that incite crime, violence, discrimination and hostility against individuals or groups,” National Union of People’s Lawyer (NUPL) president Olalia said in a statement.

“One cannot justify red-tagging by the State as freedom of speech to deny its own citizens’ freedom of speech,” he added.

Olalia pointed out red-tagging is “essentially against freedom of speech because it is aimed at stopping speech, expression, beliefs and association it does not agree with.”

“You cannot invoke freedom of speech to kill freedom of speech,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, is studying the possibility of criminalizing red-tagging.

“We will study and consider the matter, but the bottom line is that such a move will not violate our Constitution,” the lawmaker said.

“One major issue to be addressed if we are to criminalize red-tagging or red-baiting is if it will infringe on our Constitution’s provision ensuring freedom of expression and freedom of speech,” Lacson explained.

The senator noted there are divergent views on freedom of speech, one of which, he said states that “such freedom is not absolute – that is why we have laws penalizing libel and cyber-libel.”

 
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