Baguio-Benguet journos again urge end to red-tagging of media, activists

Artemio Dumlao - Philstar.com
Baguio-Benguet journos again urge end to red-tagging of media, activists
This undated file photo shows the Lion's Head, a landmark along Kennon Road in Baguio City
The STAR, file

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — Journalists and media workers in Baguio and Benguet this week again urged government to stop red-tagging their colleagues after Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club Inc. president Aldwin Quitasol,  a correspondent of The Daily Tribune, received a summons to an anti-insurgency “dialogue”.

The BCBC and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines Baguio-Benguet chapter released a joint statement on Tuesday criticizing the 'Tokhang'-style methodology being employed by the Philippine National Police in its bid to counter the underground communist movement.

"The measure aims to harass and intimidate activists. This includes members of the media, which state authorities presume [to have] links with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA)," the statement said.

RELATED: Baguio court orders police to stop red-tagging youth leaders, groups on social media

The journalists and media worker also criticized the Cordillera Regional Peace and Order Council which has repackaged "Tokhang" — from the Bisaya words for "knock and plead"  into “Dumanon, Makitongtong” which simply also means "seek and talk". 

They said the rebranding "effort to make it acceptable, does not make the program less deadly than Tokhang nor able to hide its intention to red-tag individuals."

Red-tagging, or accusing people and organizations of being sympathizers and members of the communist insurgency, has been an increasingly common tactic since 2017, when peace talks between the government and communist rebels broke down. Red-tagging has led to harassment, attacks and — in some cases — death.

RELATED: Baguio police tag journalist as 'communist front organization personality'

Quitasol claimed he received a letter from the Baguio police and the Philippine Army to attend another dialogue as part of the police’s and military’s Community Support Program White Area Operation (CSP-WAO) – a component of the government’s "Oplan Kapayapaan" counter-insurgency strategy.

Quitasol had also been summoned to a dialogue in 2021.

“Tinanong sa akin ‘yung mga coverages namin kung nakakatanggap kami ng sulat mula sa NPA, mga statements mula sa CPP-NPA, kung paano kami nakakatanggap  (They asked me about coverage, if I had received messages or statements from the CPP-NPA, and how I got these),” the journalist said.

Quitasol said he told authorities then that journalists’ email accounts are usually public because they use these for news-gathering. “This does not make us part of the communist-led armed rebellion,” he pointed out

The Communist Party of the Philippines has an information bureau as well as a spokesperson who has a presence on social media. 




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