Red-tagging: Magalong eyes suit vs Badoy
BAGUIO CITY, Benguet, Philippines — Mayor Benjamin Magalong on Monday said he would take legal actions against former anti-insurgency task force spokesperson Lorraine Badoy for linking him again to communists during a series of television broadcasts held days after the mayor was selected for a committee that would investigate senior police officials who are tied to illegal drug operations.
Magalong, speaking to reporters here, did not spell out the recourse he was considering except to say that his daughter and her husband, both lawyers, were still studying the legal actions they would take against Badoy and Pastor Apollo Quiboloy’s Sonshine Media Network International’s (SMNI) news channel for labeling him a “traitor” and a “person of no principles.”
One of these programs addressed Magalong’s selection as part of a five-man committee that will review the careers and lifestyles of senior police officers in order to uncover “ninja cops” (rogue cops) still lurking within the police bureaucracy.
Badoy and Jeffrey Celiz, who has been introducing himself as a former rebel, questioned Magalong’s inclusion in the committee in a commentary aired last week by SMNI radio station DWSI 864 AM.
“That’s going to be a problem because Benjamin Magalong is a friend of the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army),” Badoy had said in the program posted on DWSI’s social media page.
It was the second time that Badoy openly Red-tagged Magalong for “protecting communists.” The first was when she was serving as spokesperson for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac).
In March last year, Badoy criticized Magalong for ordering the removal of all Red-tagging posters and tarpaulins in Baguio to protect youth activists from harassment following a dialogue with progressive and civic organizations.
“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,” Magalong said on Monday.
He added: “Youthful activism does not necessarily mean espousing a communist ideology.”
In an interview with reporters, Magalong recalled being wounded in combat in Abra province during an anti-insurgency operation he led after graduating from the Philippine Military Academy in 1982.
“I didn’t just dedicate my life fighting communist insurgents to simply turn around and abandon that cause … [The SMNI critics] never went to battle. They never experienced conflict,” the mayor said.
Baguio’s activist community has rallied behind Magalong, and has been advocating SMNI’s shutdown.
Louise Montenegro, one of the student activists who attended last year’s dialogue with Magalong, has backed the former police general for standing up to Badoy and SMNI.
“SMNI is a disgrace and mocks journalistic integrity for spreading fake news and malicious disinformation. Mayor Magalong should pursue all necessary action against the barrage of defamatory ‘news’ that were thrown against him by Badoy, SMNI and NTF-Elcac,” said Montenegro, the Cordillera spokesperson for the Kabataan party list group.
Magalong had yet to be informed when the five-man committee would begin their task, but revealed that some of the people chosen for the screening body were “former generals who are well known for their probity.”
He last discussed the matter with Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos during a Justice Zone dialogue that was held behind closed doors last week.
On Jan. 9, Magalong said the five-man committee would uphold due process and respect the rights of all police officers once its members are appointed by President Marcos.
The mayor acknowledged the risks he would face again for taking part in the investigation after his controversial testimony in a 2019 Senate inquiry that revealed the existence of ninja cops or those involved in the illegal drug trade.
“Akala ko tapos na (I thought that part of my life was over),” he said, but stressed that his latest advocacy for youth empowerment compelled him to accept Abalos’ offer.
“If there’s anything that adversely impacts the development of our youths’ potential, it is drugs,” Magalong said.
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