Reds, Army wrangle over Red-tagging of journalists
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY –– The question of who is responsible for the recent Red-tagging of two journalists here has the Philippine Army and communist rebels pointing at each other.
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 as NPA members in flyers couriered separately to the Cagayan de Oro Press Club and Rev. Rolando Abejo of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente.
In a statement released on social media Friday, Brigadier General Edgardo de Leon, commander of the Army’s 403rd Infantry Brigade, said the smear campaign on Corrales and Gallardo could be “the handiwork of the Reds.”
“Whoever is doing this has the malicious intent to sow divide and break our friendly relationship,” de Leon said.
Lt. Colonel Mardy Hortillosa, spokesman of the regional police, said they stood with those who were Red-tagged but “morally, have no involvement in any activity” of the communist rebels.
Hortillosa added that he “condemns those who support in any way” the communist movement.
He said the regional police office had nothing to do with any Red-tagging.
In an August 29 statement, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said the Red-tagging in Cagayan de Oro was no different from Negros which has turned deadly for several people.
The CPP pointed to the Army’s 4th Infantry Division as responsible for the deed.
It said the military only wanted a ploy to hide alleged human rights abuses by state security forces.
Threatening journalists and human rights defenders, according to the CPP, prevents them from reporting the real conditions in Mindanao.
Mayor Oscar Moreno has deplored the Red-tagging of Corrales and Gallardo, whom he said he knew to have a “firm adherence to democratic principles.”
Moreno said “democracy must have space for dissent and conflicting views.”
Joel Sy-Egco, executive director of Presidential Task Force on Media Security, said they were concerned about the recent Red-tagging of journalists, which were on top of the previous ones earlier reported to them, particularly Mindanao officers of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.
“We are just a phone call away,” Egco assured.
Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said “journalists are merely doing their job to report both sides of the issues” and that Red-tagging “serves no purpose except to destroy their reputations without proof and unnecessarily hinders their work.”
Erlinda Olivia Tiu, director of the Philippine Information Agency-Region 10, said she was sad upon knowing about the Red-tagging of Gallardo and Corrales, whom she described as “legitimate members of the media,” who have helped promote government programs and advocacies. With Ryan D. Rosauro /lzb
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