Army, PNP accused of red-tagging personalities, groups

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DAVAO CITY (February 25) — A journalist and his familya church leader, a human rights advocate and their likes are reportedly being tagged by the members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP), as supporters cum members of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

But both the police and military denied having a hand in the distribution of a document that contained a list of personalities, including an editor of a local newspaper and some members of his family, with alleged ties to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Tagged along with more than a dozen persons and four groups as CPP members were Leonardo Vicente “Cong” Corrales, associate editor of the Mindanao Gold Star Daily, a local newspaper with Mindanao-wide circulation, and his wife and son.

Corrales and others were accused as being part of an organization that wants to overthrow the government and replace it with a communist form of government.

Included in the list were some members of the clergy of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), militant group leaders, human rights lawyers, and other civilians.

Also mentioned were the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, Alliance of Concerned Teachers, Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao, and Kabataan partylist.

As of February 24, no one has claimed responsibility for circulating said document, although media groups such as the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and the Cagayan de Oro Press Club (COPC) have both condemned the red-tagging of Corrales.

Corrales is a member of the local NUJP chapter and member of the COPC Board of Directors.

Corrales earlier said he was not in any way connected with the CPP and authorities could check his credentials any time.

The red-tagging issue cropped up after the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año revealed over 300 local and national officials are directly or indirectly supporting the communist movement by paying revolutionary tax or giving extortion money.

Journalists in Mindanao, however, asked the PNP and the AFP not to label journalists who are critical to the administration as communists, saying they are just exercising their freedom of expression.

The Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID), in a statement it released on Saturday, Feb. 23, said it “does not engage in cheap propaganda that can cause confusion and division in our society.”

In fact, the 4ID said, “we are serious in our efforts to harness the support of all stakeholders in line with the government’s call for a Whole of the Nation Approach to end the local communist threat to peace loving communities.”

The leaflets which contain names of 19 individuals and four organizations, the 4ID added, could be crafted by anybody who wanted to sow intrigues and create a wedge among the people of Cagayan de Oro and members of the Armed Forces.

Brig. Gen. Nemecio Gacal, 4ID commander, was quoted in the same statement as saying, “we are making friends, not enemies” and that the document shown by members of human rights group Karapatan “does not belong to us and we do not engage in cheap propaganda”.

“We call upon concerned individuals to refrain from spreading unverified documents/reports. Most importantly, we, together with the PNP, wholeheartedly offer security and other assistance to the innocent victims” of the red-tagging on the list, he added.

In an interview, Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary-general, pointed the finger at the military as behind the red-tagging of those in the list.

In a separate statement, Supt. Surki Sereñas, police regional spokesperson, said the red-tagging was an “act meant to foment distrust and incite dissension and schism between and among us. The ‘list’ is a sordid propaganda to agitate us: the government, the media and other concerned sectors.”

For legal reasons, Sereñas said, “the [Philippine National Police] will never publish a ‘list’ without proof. This is certainly not a PNP list and will support and defend the rights of everyone on the list to seek rectification and disprove their communist affiliation”. –NewsLine with PNA report

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