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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.

A poster red-tagging the NUJP and the NUPL found plastered on the wall of a church in Cagayan de Oro last Sunday. (NUJP photo)

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.

‘Scary’

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.

A streamer red-tagging some residents of Barangay Consolacion in Cagayan de Oro. (Photo from Cong Corrales)

“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)

NUJP salutes CDO colleagues’ unity in defense of press freedom

28 May 2019

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines hails our colleagues in Cagayan de Oro for their show of unity against unrelenting efforts to suppress freedom of the press and of expression.

When unidentified persons draped a black streamer naming so-called communist rebel “front organizations” – including the NUJP – on the fence of Cagayan de Oro’s Press Freedom Monument at Vicente de Lara Park, it was clear that we were not the sole media group targeted by this red-tagging operation, something we have been subjected to since late last year.

That the incident happened on the first day of Cagayan de Oro’s celebration of Press Freedom Week, an annual event dear to the hearts of our colleagues in the City of Golden Friendship, indicates it was intended as a warning to all journalists to go easy on critical reportage and commentary.

The response of our colleagues from the different media organization in Cagayan de Oro was as swift as it was appropriate: they tore the streamer down and set it alight, while vowing to remain united and not be cowed by those seeking to suppress the full exercise of democratic rights.

At a time when the threats to the profession and our basic rights and liberties continue to worsen, unfortunately abetted by a contemptible few who have chosen to betray the profession of truth, the example set by the media of Cagayan de Oro is proof of what we have maintained all along, that the united community of independent Filipino journalists is capable of holding back the darkness that seeks to engulf us once again.

The NUJP National Directorate

ALERT: NUJP red-tagged as Cagayan de Oro media commemorates Press Freedom Week

27 May 2019

A streamer tagging the National Union Of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and other activist groups as allies of the ‘terrorist NPA’ was found draped at the foot of the monument honoring Press Freedom at the Provincial Capitol grounds in Cagayan de Oro.

The other groups similarly branded as ‘terrorists’ are the Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM), the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), the the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), the League of Filipino Students (LFS), the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP), and the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE).

The streamer was found by members of the Cagayan de Oro Press Club (CLUB) who gathered at the Press Freedom monument to launch the week-long commemoration of the 37th Press Freedom Week.

The streamer was later set ablaze following a 7am mass attended by members of the COPC.

Photo by Menzie Montes

“We condemn the red-tagging of the NUJP,”club member Uriel Quilinguing, a former president of the COPC as well as a former chairman of the NUJP-Cagayan de Oro Chapter, said.

Quilinguing said the COPC and other media groups in Cagayan de Oro City condemn what they called ‘baseless accusations’ against the NUJP.

Quilinguing called on the media to stay united in the face of threats which, he said is also the theme of Press Freedom Week.

Pamela Jay Orias, chairperson of the Cagayan de Oro Chapter of the NUJP, said a free press is a hallmark of a free and democratic society.

“A critical press serves the public interest and should therefore not be subjected to attacks,” Orias said.

No group has come out to claim responsibility for the red-tagging.

Reference:

JB R. Deveza
NUJP Safety Officer for western Mindanao

Higaonon evacuees face harassments in Cagayan de Oro

[UPDATED] Lumad evacuees encamped at the Misamis Oriental capitol grounds were harassed Wednesday night by men who introduced themselves as Cagayan de Oro City information officers, playing loud music and showing films produced by the military.

In alerts posted online by supporters, two men were seen operating a movie screen while loud music was blasting against the evacuation site apparently aimed at intimidating the evacuees.

A source from Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization told Kodao that when confronted by the leaders of the evacuees, the men said they were personnel of the Cagayan de Oro city information office, which in turn was ordered by the provincial government of Misamis Oriental to set up the movie and sound system.

When Kalumbay inquired with the provincial government, it denied issuing such an order, the source added.

Another source told Kodao the city government has denied they had anything to do with the incident.

The Kalumbay source said that while the two men were setting up their equipment, a woman, who introduced herself as a city government social worker, made the rounds among the evacuees handing out biscuits and juice.

“Upon hindsight, the woman appeared to have been diverting the evacuees’ attention from the two men,” the source said.

The evacuees suspect the woman is a police personnel, having been previously seen during Lumad rallies in the city, the source added.

Subsequent Facebook posts by supporters also said military and police elements have encircled the evacuation site throughout the night.

On Tuesday night, a nine-year old evacuee was abducted and nearly raped by two unidentified men but managed to escape.

The victim’s mother is not interested in filing a report with the police, local newspaper reports said.

Meanwhile, the military has accused the evacuees of being used by so-called anti-government groups for staging the evacuation.

Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division spokesperson 1st Lieutenant Tere Ingente told local reporters the evacuees must go home and not allow themselves to “be used by organizations as propaganda to advance their own self-serving agenda.”

Around 35 Higaonon families has again put up an evacuation center at the capitol grounds after troopers of the 58th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army has occupied their homes in Sitio Camansi, Barangay Banglay, Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental.

One hundred and fifty-eight evacuees left their homes last May 26 and first set up camp at Lagonglong town proper last May 29 after days of trekking.

It is the community’s sixth forced evacuation since 2015.

The Higaonons believe that the intensified military operations aim to drive them away from their ancestral lands which cover parts of Mt. Balatukan and facilitate the entry of large-scale mining companies and agribusiness plantations, Lumad organization Katungod earlier said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)