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Groups close-in on Red-tagged journalists

DAVAO CITY –– Various groups closed-in on two Cagayan de Oro City-based journalists who were recently tagged as members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA).

The groups have urged authorities to investigate the incident and hold the perpetrators, who remained anonymous, to account.

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The Philippine Press Institute (PPI), a national association of newspapers, said the Red-tagging of journalists was “irresponsible.”

“This does not only endanger the profession and result in a chilling effect but also puts the lives of journalists and their families at risk,” PPI said in a statement.

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This week, journalists Cong Corrales, associate editor of Mindanao Gold Star Daily, and Froilan Gallardo, who writes for MindaNews and the Philippine Daily Inquirer, were named in flyers couriered separately to the Cagayan de Oro Press Club and to Rev. Rolando Abejo of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente as members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA).

Corrales believed he was targeted anew because of his column on the travails of Higaonon tribal folk who evacuated from their community in Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental.

Gallardo said insinuations about his NPA leanings may have been rooted from a story he wrote about a raid of the security outpost of a power generation company in Balingasag, Misamis Oriental, incorporating details provided by the rebels.

Cagayan de Oro Press Club president Jesus Salloman said obtaining information from entities critical of the government “in the exercise of fairness … does not make a journalist a Communist rebel or a terrorist.”

He described Corrales and Gallardo as “fair and unbiased in their reporting.”

“At its core, Red-tagging anyone in the media profession is tantamount to suppression of the freedom of the press and the right to free expression,” the Mindanao Independent Press Council, Inc. said in a statement.

The group called for “a sensible dialogue” between media groups and state security forces on the issue./lzb

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TAGS: Cagayan de Oro City, journalists, New People's Army, NPA, Philippine Press Institute, PPI, red-tagging
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