By KHIM ABALOS
BAGUIO CITY — In their recent statement released on the EDSA People Power anniversary, Tongtongan ti Umili scoffed at Philippine National Police Chief General Archie Gamboa’s announcement to craft a guideline when identifying “left-leaning organizations and institutions.”
“If the PNP is serious in adhering to the 1987 Constitution, then the only guideline it should release to its units is to end red-tagging, and respect the people’s democratic right to exercise dissent, especially now under the anti-people and dictatorial shadows of the Duterte administration,” Tongtongan said in their official statement.
According to the group, the only guideline that Gamboa should release is for the police to cease from associating activists and progressive groups to the armed revolutionary movement.
The plan to release the guideline came after Gamboa clarified the PNP’s denial of red-tagging cases against progressive groups perpetrated by its personnel in the Cordillera.
“Red-tagging implicates a lot of things and there is a perception of violation on the right to privacy, in contrast probably on the freedom of expression. But like what happened in Manila with the Muslims, this was misinterpreted, and I think we need to explain to the people the reasons why this is being done,” Gamboa said.
The country’s top cop made the statement during a press conference after his visit and inspection in Camp Bado Dangwa, the headquarters of the Police Regional Office Cordillera (PROCOR).
Earlier, youth groups called the PROCOR “shameless” for denying that cases of red-tagging exist in the region.
PROCOR’s denial came after Sagada police chief Senior Inspector Basilio Hopdayan admitted they were following orders when they distribute flyers and post content on Facebook red-tagging various people’s organizations. The Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) also apologized in November 2018 after posting memes on the BCPO Facebook page implicating student organizations to the “Red October” plot.
Tongtongan retorted that “PNP’s actions are clear and not in any way misinterpreted, contrary to their claims.”
“Red-tagging is political vilification. Their continuous pursuit in this futile smear campaign against progressive organizations has already resulted in criminalizing legitimate dissent. Activists are arrested, made to face false charges, and even subjected to extrajudicial killings,” the statement said.
Tongtongan also cited the conduct of several “information campaigns” of the PNP identifying legitimate organizations and individuals as terrorists. The group also mentioned PROCOR’s Command Journal releases to the media tagging progressive groups as “communist front organizations” and their activities as “communist terrorist groups” undertakings.
In a related story, youth groups red-tagged by the government in the city will include the issue in their upcoming National Coordinated Action for education and against state fascism on February 28. According to them, they will tackle the matter during classroom discussions, and other public discourses lined up as build-up for the event. They added that the education and information campaign is their response to unmask further the lies that the PNP peddles. # nordis.net