Two journalists in Mindanao were again red-tagged, one threatened with death with a P1 million bounty on his head.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said Leonardo Vicente “Cong” Corrales, associate editor of the Mindanao Gold Star Daily, was again named in a new anonymous red-tagging material, along with respected veteran journalist Froilan Gallardo of Mindanews and several other Cagayan de Oro personalities and organizations.
“On Wednesday, August 28, we were informed that new anonymous red tagging material against several personalities in Cagayan de Oro, similar to the earlier flyers and banners, had been received, this time from a courier service, by Iglesia Filipina Independiente priest Fr. Rolando Abejo and a city hall employee who had also been red tagged earlier,” the NUJP said in a statement.
Corrales had repeatedly been included in red-tagging materials distributed around Cagayan de Oro this year, accusing the former NUJP director of membership or links to the communist armed movement.
The red-tagging also previously included his wife and son.
A flyer from a “Black Mamba,” purportedly of the “MAT-NMR Press Club Chapter,” claims there is a P1 million bounty for the death of Cong.
The alleged bounty on Corrales may be the first on a journalist, NUJP sources said.
The courier packet that contained the flyer targeting Corrales identified the sender as Danilo Tirso Mantangan of Sitio Camansi, Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental with mobile phone number 09091020123.
The flyer intended for Fr. Abejo also included a list of organizations and personalities supposedly linked to the rebels. Gallardo was included in this list.
The materials received by Fr. Abejo also named human rights lawyer Beverly Musni and her daughter and colleague Czarina.
Asked by the NUJP what he could have done to earn so much hatred as to seek his death, Cong said the only reason he knows is a column he wrote on the treatment Higaonon evacuees from Sitio Camansi, Barangay Banglay in Lagonglong town, Misamis Oriental had received when they descended on Cagayan de Oro to seek help from the provincial government.
Gallardo for his part said he might have been targeted because he had recently interviewed the New People’s Army on a raid in which they seized a number of weapons from security guards of Minergy Power Corporation.
“But whatever they may have done, there is nothing that justifies such harassment and vilification and, in the case of Cong, an actual death threat,” the NUJP said.
“It is not as if our colleagues have not alerted and sought the help of local officials and the local security community,” the group added.
In July, representatives of the Cagayan de Oro Chapter of the NUJP, the Cagayan de Oro Press Club and church organizations held a dialogue with local government officials to stop the red-tagging of personalities and organizations in the city.
No concrete action has yet materialized as a result of the dialogue.
“We hold that the reason the red tagging, particularly of Cong, has worsened to actually turn potentially deadly is because of the apparent lack of interest of local government and security units to protect those so threatened and to go after and prosecute those responsible for this clearly dangerous vilification,” the NUJP statement said.
The NUJP demanded that authorities and security forces in Cagayan de Oro and Northern Mindanao ensure the safety of other journalists who find themselves in danger because of red tagging.
“We urge our colleagues in Cagayan de Oro and Northern Mindanao to close ranks and join us demand from your local government and security officials the protection you are entitled to,” the NUJP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)