BAGUIO CITY — Tongtongan ti Umili, the local chapter of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance in the city, slammed the police for the latest red-tagging incident committed against the organizations and their allies.

In a statement dated January 27, Tongtongan deplored the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) and Police Regional Office-Cordillera (PROCOR) for labeling them and other organizations in the police report as CFOs, an acronym for “communist front organizations.”

“This insistent red-tagging of PROCOR and BCPO is dangerous and condemnable. As legitimate organizations and residents of the city, we are put at risk by this senseless and baseless act,” said Jeoff Larua, secretary-general of Tongtongan.

According to him, it is more dangerous, especially now that the city council passed the persona non grata declaration against the revolutionary movement. He also underscored that the incident belies the claim and assurance of Mayor Benjamin Magalong that activists are safe in the city.

The PROCOR Command Journal for January 24-26 contained a report from the BCPO identifying the Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance (CPA), Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP), Innabuyog-Gabriela, Anakbayan, and the UP Student Council as CFOs. These groups, among others, were participating in the Global Day of Action Against US War on Iran, which calls for an end to US attacks on Iran.

Individuals identified by the police as CFO personalities are CPA secretary-general Sarah Dekdeken, Abi Taningco, Rolando Jugs Grande of Tongtongan, Christian Dave Ruz of Kabataan Party-list and Lumiere Garido.

Larua also noted that police even included a journalist who is covering their activity. Named in the report was Northern Dispatch Managing Editor Sherwin de Vera.

“The government is sparing no one from its mad communist witch-hunt. They are not only after activists or dissenters, but they also want to clamp down on truthful and critical reporting because it exposes their lies and deception,” he said.

According to Larua, the recent incident is disappointing considering the ongoing dialogues to “confront the government-perpetrated smear campaign” against progressive groups. He said the BCPO “continue to hold on to their red-scare mentality to sabotage meaningful engagement with activists.”

The incident came happened just weeks after the city officials, and the Tongtongan and CPA held a dialogue to protect the rights of activists and rights advocates in the city.

Larua points out that red-tagging incidents have “severely put the lives of activists at risk.” He stressed that the vilification of people’s organizations is a clear threat to democracy.

“We will not stand by this, and will continue to call for the ending of political vilification and the respect of human rights,” he ended.

This event is not the first time the BCPO earned criticism for red-tagging and disinformation. In October 2018, they came under fire for maliciously linking youth organizations in the city to the Red October plot. Student leaders raised the issue to the city council, where then BCPO chief Eliseo Tanding made a public apology. The city police again made the news after initiating a profiling operation against members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT). The BCPO Station 2 head Arnold Yangco Lansing wrote to the principal of Pinsao Elementary School requesting the names of teachers “who are members or aligned with ACT.” On May 13, 2019, Election Day, the BCPO Station 5, was caught sharing false information on Facebook. The station’s Facebook account shared an image claiming that the Commission on Election disqualified party-lists under the Makabayan bloc for participating in the plot to bring down the government. # nordis.net

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