By NUJP BAGUIO-BENGGUET
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippine-Baguio Benguet condemns the inclusion of our colleague Sherwin De Vera in the Police Regional Office Command Journal for January 24-26, tagging him as part of a communist front organization (CFO). By including De Vera in the report, the BCPO also tags Northern Dispatch, an established media outfit, where he works as managing editor.
Baseless allegations by state forces like this have already cost him precious time and resources when he was jailed for trumped-charges and included in the unverified Department of Justice list of alleged Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army leaders (CPP-NPA).
The journal contains all reported crimes and arrests in the region from the provincial, municipal and city police stations. However, the BCPO report pertains to an activity staged by progressive groups in Baguio on January 25 in participation of the Global Day of Action Against War with Iran, which De Vera covered.
We would like the BCPO and PROCOR to answer this question: “when did the coverage of rallies and protests become a crime or public disturbance that merits an entry in the police blotter?”
This is not the first time that BCPO has made an outright attack against journalists in Baguio. During the height of the protest against the quo warranto proceedings to remove CJ Maria Lourdes Sereno, the BCPO included in their report Aldwin Quitasol. They claimed in the report that he is part of the CNN-linked organizations holding the protest. CNN is an acronym the authorities use for CPP-NPA-NDFP.
Red-tagging has no place in a democratic society, especially when it is done against journalists who are fulfilling their responsibility to inform the people about events and issues. It is a Marcosian means of stifling dissent and freedom of expression that endangers the lives of journalists and their families. It is an attack on independent and truthful reporting, and affront to the people’s right to know and Philippine democracy.