Duterte ‘laughed’ at idea of criminalizing red-tagging

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Wednesday President Rodrigo “laughed” at the idea of criminalizing .

This was after some senators raised the idea of making red-tagging a crime in a Senate hearing.

“I told the president last night of the idea of some to criminalize red-tagging, he laughed!” Sotto told reporters in a text message.

“Napakalabo! It’s like criminalizing name-calling. Paano ‘yung sinasabihan ng fascist? Narcissist? Hindi bawal? ‘Yun yellow? Bawal din?” he said.

(It’s crazy! It’s like criminalizing name-calling. What about those called fascist? Narcissist? Is that not allowed? What about those called yellow? Should that be disallowed too?)

Earlier, Senate President Vicente Sotto recommended the filing of libel cases instead of making red-tagging a crime.

“If we criminalize red-tagging, we have to criminalize narcissistic-tagging and fascist-tagging, while it falls in the category of libel,” he said.

“E ‘di file-an na lang ng [Just file] libel. I think that should be food for thought for those who are offended by being called ‘Reds,’” Sotto said.

“You may think about that instead of having Congress discuss and then file a bill criminalizing red-tagging, which at this point would be very difficult to do,” he added.

Criminalizing red-tagging

Senator Panfilo Lacson said Wednesday he is “seriously considering” filing bills criminalizing red-tagging amid the Senate’s inquiry on alleged red-tagging of government’s critics.

“I am seriously considering the recommendation to criminalize red-tagging as long as such legislation will not infringe on the bill of rights involving freedom of speech and expression,” Lacson said.

Meanwhile, Senator Risa Hontiveros said she would evaluate the need for a law that would criminalize red-tagging.

“I have to study that, kung necessary ba ‘yon to provide for that by law. Kasi the constitutional provisions alone should suffice yung freedom of conscience, freedom of association,” Hontiveros told reporters in an online interview.

For opposition Senator Kiko Pangilinan, “The proposal is worth looking into.”

“Red-tagged individuals have also become target of killings, harassment and threats, and the impunity persists because no one is punished for such acts,” he said.

“Right now, victims of red-tagging can resort to filing of administrative cases before the Ombudsman, but which appears to have little dent,” he said.