Baguio PNP apologize to activists over red-tagging

By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
www.nordis.net

BAGUIO CITY — The Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) chief apologized to members of youth organizations for a post on its official social media site labeling these groups as as recruiters for the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP) the government claims was behind the so-called failed “Red October Plot” to oust President Rodrigo Duterte.

Newly installed BCPO chief Police Senior Superintendent Eliseo Tanding said sorry to members of progressive youth organizations during the city council session on November 26. But he maintained that the post did not mean to harm the youth but to warn parents to protect their children from being recruited into the CPP-NPA-NDFP.

But Marben Panlasiqui of the Movement Against Tyranny (MAT) said the post was meant to malign their groups and actually “red-tagged” their organizations. He said that since the post was featured on the BCPO’s social media page “BCPO, kasangga mo”, many of their members are psychologically affected and were vulnerable to harassment. He added that some of them are also subjected to surveillance for which Tanding denied it.

The BCPO reposted a meme that has photos of youth leaders with text that reads: “Sa mga magulang, kami po ay nakikiusap sa inyo na paigtingin pa ang paggabay sa inyong mga anak; iparamdam niyo po sa kanila ang pagmamahal at seguridad upang hindi sila mapahamak sa mga nais sumira ng kanilang kinabukasan. Maraming salamat po”

(To the parents, we are appealing to you to strengthen your guidance to your children; you should assure them love and security so that they will not be victimized by those who wish to destroy their future).

BCPO captioned the reposted meme with: “Babala sa mga magulang. Ito ang mga lider ng mga nagpapakilalang aktibistang organisasyon na nanghihikayat sa ating mga anak na sumali sa kilos protesta para sa ‘Red October Plot’” (Warning to the parents, these are the leaders being introduced as activist organizations that are recruiting for the protest action for the “Red October Plot). The post shows the faces of Kabataan Partylist Representative Sarah Elago and other leaders of progressive groups where some of them are actually no longer active and with the featured organizations.

Christian Dave Ruz of Kabataan Partylist said the police even visited the houses of the members of the Baguio chapters of the Anakbayan, Kabataan Partylist, League of Filipino Students (LFS) and other progressive youth organizations and talked with the parents of the children.

Ruz stressed that if the malicious post was posted by a private individual on his private account, they can sue the owner for cyber libel but since it was posted on a police’s social media account, it is a form of human rights violations because the perpetrators are agents of government who are supposed to be upholding the rights of the people.

Baguio City Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Federation President and ex-officio Councilor Levy Lloyd Orcales said that the concerns of the members of the youth organizations is legitimate and is really a concern because other organization may also suffer the same fate. He said the groups being red-tagged are active in working with the City Government especially in activities beneficial to the Baguio youth.

On October 22, members of the red-tagged youth groups filed nine cases of filed 9 cases of political vilification, harassment and intimidation before the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Cordillera. Prior to this, Kabataan Partylist Representative Sarah Elago talked with the heads of the CHR national office in relation to the red tagging of youth activists in the country. This led to a directive to different regional branches of CHR to conduct investigation on the matter.

According to PSupt. Armando Gapuz of the BCPO, the said post was already taken down from their social media page. # nordis.net

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