CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — The Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division denied during a dialogue with journalists Wednesday that they were behind the red-tagging of two journalists.
This was revealed by 4th ID Commander Brigadier General Franco Galicia to local officers of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) Cagayan de Oro Chapter.
“We don’t do that because in the first place, we gain nothing from it,” Gacal told the NUJP officers.
Two prominent journalists, Froilan Gallardo of Mindanews and Phillippine Daily Inquirer, and Leonardo Vicente ‘Cong’ Corrales, associate editor of Gold Star Daily News, were mentioned in a leaflet which claimed they are members of the New People’s Army. The statement was signed by “Black Mamba”.
A series of red-baiting propaganda had also been circulated in Cagayan de Oro by a certain Movement Against Terror, which targeted Gallardo, Corrales, and also lawyers, church leaders and activists which tagged them as “leftists” and “terrorists”.
During the dialogue, Galicia said the red-tagging of journalists could be made by politicians who might felt slighted from the write-ups of Gallardo and Corrales against them.
Galicia also suggested the New People’s Army could have used this propaganda to drive a wedge between the media and the military.
But during a Congressional hearing, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana challenged the Makabayan coalition and activists to condemn the CPP and NPA so that the military will stop the red-tagging against them.
NUJP CdO chair Pamela Joy Orias, who was also among those red-tagged, reminded the military of their “good relationship” in public service and in conducting media safety trainings.
Orias said her group will continue to investigate who is behind the propaganda attacks and would consider filing charges against them.
JB Deveza, safety officers of NUJP Northern Mindanao, said the red-tagging has a chilling effect on fellow journalists.
“It’s also scaring some of our colleagues, as they will now be afraid to write well-rounded news stories for fear of being red-tagged, the effect of which is readers will only get one sided-reports. It’s actually the community who’s losing every time we are red-tagged,” Deveza said.
The rights group Amnesty International urged the Duterte government to act on the red-tagging incidents. They said branding individuals and organizations as “communist fronts” has become a means to endanger their lives, leaving them at risk of harassment and attacks.
“The authorities must seriously investigate all threats against the two journalists and others who have been red-tagged; take proactive steps to protect the safety and other rights of journalists and others at risk,” the group said. (davaotoday.com)