MIPC asks government, stop red-tagging journalist

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DAVAO CITY — The Mindanao Independent Press Council (MIPC) condemns the series of red-tagging incidents involving Leonardo Vicente “Cong” Corrales, associate editor of Mindanao Gold Star Daily based in Cagayan de Oro City, and other journalists in Mindanao in general.

In a statement the MIPC stressed “As its core, red-tagging anyone in the media profession is tantamount to suppression of the freedom of the press and the right to free expression. Such baseless allegations could force any targeted journalist to exercise self-censorship and smacks of prior restraint.”

The statement further stated:

Per media reports, Mr. Corrales is the subject of various media materials being spread to cast him as an active armed combatant of the communist New People’s Army (NPA), whose stated goal is the violent overthrow of the government. Such allegation is dangerous as it is ludicrous, as the perpetrators have not presented an iota of evidence to their claim other than the generic, ridiculous claims that border on the malicious.

Before the recent episode against Mr. Corrales, we note that he has been a victim of the same harassments in the past.

Journalists can be critical in their stance about the issues that they are passionate about. Just like any other citizen, they can hold varying political and social beliefs and these are protected by law.

When they go out of line, libel laws can be invoked by any injured party. In short, legal venues are available when any citizen, journalists or not, is deemed to have broken the law.

There is no recourse, however, when phantoms personalities resort to vicious propaganda against any member of the press whose lives are public in character and whose views are readily accessible to the general public.

We could understand, therefore, the trauma that these red-tagging incidents have brought to Mr. Corrales and his family.

We are calling for the relevant authorities, therefore, to issue concrete statements against any act of red-tagging of any journalist or citizen, for that matter, and to implement tangible steps to prevent any act of red-tagging by any government personnel or entity.

We are also calling for a sensible dialogue between media groups and state security forces to tackle the problem of red-tagging not just as a serious security issue for journalists, but also as a matter that hinges on human rights.

Red-tagging any journalist is counterproductive, divisive, dangerous, and will not lead to meaningful outcomes.

MIPC believes that a constructive discussion on this issue is a way to go forward.

Reference: Edith Z. Caduaya President 09065294997

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