Cordillera groups reject talks with cops, soldiers amid red-tagging
BAGUIO CITY, Benguet, Philippines — Representatives of an alliance of multisectoral groups in the Cordillera on Monday turned down an invitation to a community dialogue initiated by the police and military in the region as part of the government’s counterinsurgency program.
Instead, members and leaders of the Tongtongan ti Umili (TTU) urged police and military officials to discipline their erring forces.
TTU claimed that policemen and soldiers were behind “threats, harassment, intimidation, political vilification and Red-tagging” of militant groups and their members.
“As such we cannot be in this dialogue with the perpetrators of human rights violations, unless accountability measures are set in motion,” the group said in a letter its representatives delivered to the office of Police Col. Glenn Lonogan, Baguio police director.
On Dec. 20 last year, Lonogan invited TTU and other people’s organizations to attend the one-day dialogue scheduled on Jan. 14 to supposedly tackle issues affecting the urban poor, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.
Lonogan said they were conducting a community support program which he described as an “internal stability operations approach” aimed at creating conflict-resilient communities.
The Inquirer tried to reach Lonogan for comments on Tuesday but he did not return calls or respond to text messages.
Geraldine Cacho, TTU chair, said an end to the communist insurgency could only be achieved through peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
“A more productive alternative, we suggest that the AFP and PNP focus on holding its erring elements accountable to the law, and desist from implementing the ‘dumanun makitungtong’ strategy which violates our rights as a people,” Cacho said in the letter. “Dumanun makitungtong” (Ilocano for “visit and discuss”) is an anticommunist tactic in the region.
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