Relentless red-tagging in Cagayan de Oro ‘scary and dangerous’
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) called on those behind the relentless red-tagging of human rights, media, church and lawyers’ organizations in Cagayan de Oro City to stop their activities as it “endangers lives.”
For the eighth time since February, the NUJP and other organizations and personalities were again listed in posters, this time plastered on the walls of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) church in Cagayan de Oro’s Barangay Agusan Sunday.
Along with the NUJP, the Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao-National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, the IFI, the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines and others were listed as so-called fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
The posters were signed by a shadowy group calling itself the Movement Against Terrorism-Northern Mindanao Region.
“The NUJP Cagayan de Oro City Chapter condemns this act, an act clearly meant to intimidate and silence a critical press,” the group’s statement, signed by its chapter president Pamela Jay Orias and NUJP Western Mindanao media safety officer JB Deveza, said Monday.
While denying it is a front for any organization, the NUJP said it will also not stand idly by while the truth is under persistent attack.
“[The NUJP] will not cower while the freedom of the press and the people’s right to truthful, accurate, and relevant information is under assault,” it said.
Former NUJP director and Mindanao Gold Star Daily associate editor Cong Corrales said inclusion in the list is “scary, to say the least.”
Corrales is among the personalities listed by the posters and streamers that, at one time, had been displayed in his own village.
“[Mayroong] tarp din sinabit sa bridge facing Consolacion with the words may mga terrorist supporters dito sa [Barangay] Consolacion,” Corrales said.
“Our Punong Barangay has already reported it to the police. Pero wala pa ring action,” he said.
Corrales said local officials should be asked to look into repeated red-tagging incidents in the city.
Corrales’ wife and son were, at one time, included in the list.
The veteran journalist has denied being a member of the underground groups.
“I feel they will not stop until one of us in the list is killed,” Corrales told Kodao.
The embattled journalist said he is taking safety precautions but believes the perpetrators know where he lives.
‘Not enemies of the state’
The NUJP said the people behind the red-tagging campaign must be reminded that a free press is guaranteed under the Philippine Constitution.
“Perhaps the people behind this despicable act need reminding that journalists are not enemies of the state. Perhaps the people behind these lies forget that journalists are just truth-tellers whose job serves the public interest,” the group added.
The group called on the perpetrators to stop the vilification campaign against the NUJP and against other rights organizations.
“Your lies endanger journalists; your lies put people’s lives at risk,” it said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)