Magalong condemns ‘traitor’ tag: Baguio youth activists not communists
MANILA, Philippines — Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong has condemned accusations that he is an accomplice of communist rebels, saying that the local government is protecting youthful activism, which does not necessarily mean espousing communist ideology.
Magalong, in a statement posted on his Facebook account on Monday, called out Pastor Apollo Quiboloy and other program hosts in the Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) for making “unfounded accusations” about him being a traitor to the country.
The Baguio local chief executive said that the tirades are baseless and needless, as he has been serving the city with loyalty to the Constitution.
“I express grave disappointment and dismay that a certain Lorraine Badoy, a certain ‘Ka Eric’ and Pastor Apollo Carreon Quiboloy are destroying my reputation as a public servant by branding me as a ‘traitor’, ‘a person of no principles’ among other unfounded accusations, during their recent programs on SMNI,” Magalong said.
“I am safeguarding our young constituents from being subjected to unnecessary vilification by striving to ensure that our youth activists — not communists — in Baguio are safe from persecution and harassment. Youthful activism does not necessarily mean espousing a communist ideology,” he added.
Magalong also highlighted that his career as a member of the now-defunct Philippine Constabulary and eventually as part of the Philippine National Police (PNP) shows that he has spent his life countering communist operatives in his areas of assignment.
“I have fought the Communist Terror Group in Luzon and Mindanao from the time I graduated as 2nd lieutenant in 1982. My first assignment was in Abra where I was wounded in combat against communist insurgents. From that year to 2005, I staked my life fighting the CPP/NPA, leading my men not from the rear but upfront in numerous operations,” he said.
“To be accused that I have turned my back on my lifelong commitment against the CPP/NPA is a grave insult that sweeps aside my lengthy and loyal service to the Philippines,” he added.
Magalong’s statement came after Quiboloy, Badoy, and Ka Eric or Jeffrey Celiz called out the mayor on air at a program in SMNI, accusing him of turning his back on the country and supporting the communist cause.
Quiboloy said that Magalong tore down posters claiming that party-list groups Kabataan and Anakbayan are front organizations of the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army, and the National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) — an accusation that the organizations have constantly denied.
“What did he do? He ordered the removal of the posters showing that the Anakbayan and the Kabataan party-lists are CPP-NPA-NDF inclined. He had them removed from his city in Baguio,” Quiboloy said in Filipino.
“He is a PMA (Philippine Military Academy) graduate, but he ordered to stop the activities that are going against the Kabataan party-list, he ordered the removal, and sided with the communists. What can you say about this? He is an accomplice […] so Mayor Magalong of Baguio City, please condemn this if you are really with the government,” he added.
Magalong, on the other hand, cited that he has been active in anti-communist insurgency efforts, being part of the regional versions of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac).
He also urged those he mentioned just to file cases if they believed there was wrongdoing in his actions as a local chief executive.
“I was the Chairman of the Regional Peace and Order Council as well as Vice Chairman of the Cordillera RTF-ELCAC from 2019 to 2022. During my tenure, I have fully supported, without any mental reservation, the programs of the NTF- ELCAC. Through our collective efforts, the ELCAC program continues to succeed in the Cordillera, notably with stronger support from the local communities and better perception from the public,” the Baguio mayor claimed.
“If my actions as head of a local government are under question, let due process be sternly observed. By all means, take the necessary steps that I be sanctioned, in accordance with procedures in place, without having to be publicly scorned over a non-issue,” he added.
This is not the first time that Magalong was accused of supporting communists. In March 2022, Magalong also banned the placement of tarps meant to red-tag activists after students said they felt unsafe due to being labeled as members of communist organizations.
After that action, NTF-Elcac — which used to have Badoy as its spokesperson — condemned Magalong’s actions, saying that he betrayed the country.