Red-tagging persists despite Baguio’s human rights resolution

July 9, 2024


SAN FERNANDO CITY (updated July 8 10:00 AM) — Despite a resolution declaring Baguio as an “inclusive human rights city,” red-tagging of Baguio-based activists persists. Recent victims include Joanna Cariño, the first Filipino recipient of the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights and a Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) Advisory Council member.

“I fear for my life and safety,” said the elderly Martial Law survivor and descendant of Ibaloi chieftain Mateo Cariño in her affidavit submitted to the Commission on Human Rights-Cordillera (CHR-CAR) regional office.

On July 4, Cariño, Julius Daguitan, vice chairperson for internal affairs of Dap-Ayan ti Kultura iti Kordilerya (DKK), and a youth leader from the Progressive Igorots for Social Action (PIGSA) filed complaints with CHR-CAR. They accused the military and a Facebook page of persistent harassment and red-tagging.

“I am already a senior citizen of 73 years old. I do not deserve to be attacked and vilified in this manner. Instead, I deserve to be in the comfort of my family and live the rest of my days in peace and well-being,” she stated.

Cariño cited two incidents in her affidavit involving Philippine Army personnel from the 102nd who tagged her as a New People’s Army (NPA) member, causing her “mental anguish and anxiety.” She said the unit included her photo and name in a tarpaulin shown during a March 24 “Youth Assembly and Information Awareness” event in Sitio Talampac, Brgy. Pacoc, Lacub Abra. The poster identified her and CPA chairperson Windel Bolinget as leaders of a communist guerrilla front in North Abra.

More recently, a concerned citizen photographed a document showing alleged NPA members, believed to have been left by a military officer in a store in Poblacion, Balbalan, Kalinga. A page labeled “ICRC Execom Gallery” contained Cariño’s photo and personal information, along with details of Bolinget, Sarah Abellon Alikes, Jennifer Awingan Taggaoa, Lulu Jimenez, and Stephen Tauli. This transpired following a military offensive against alleged NPA guerillas involving the 54th and 103rd Infantry Battalions.

This is not the first time the government has branded Cariño as a terrorist. In February 2018, the Department of Justice included her name in a petition to designate the CPP and NPA as terrorist organizations. A Manila court dismissed the petition in September 2022.

Meanwhile, the Anti-Terrorism Council designated Bolinget, Alikes, Taggaoa, and Tauli as terrorists on June 23 for their alleged leadership roles in the CPP-NPA’s regional organ in the Cordillera and Ilocos. The four CPA leaders have filed a court petition challenging the designation.

Stifling cultural work

Daguitan, a cultural and youth development worker, reported relentless online harassment and surveillance by state agents, causing him and his family significant unease and anxiety. “I have a pressing concern that needs to be sorted out in Tabuk, but I am greatly concerned if I can travel safely to my hometown,” he said.

“Just like anybody else who was a victim of red-tagging, I am worried that I may be subjected to further harassment, trumped-up charges, enforced disappearances (or worse, to become a victim of extrajudicial killing),” he added.

In his affidavit, Daguitan identified several Facebook accounts posting his name and photo, accusing him of being an NPA member. The most recent was a post by Baguio Info Page on June 19. It was taken down after a few days.

He also received reports from colleagues that state agents use these images in their barangay visits in Baguio and La Trinidad to bolster claims that he is an NPA recruiter.

“Last February, we conducted a Community Immersion in my hometown Sagada. After the activity, our local partners reported that some intelligence officers were looking for me, accusing me of acting as a guide for someone joining the NPA,” Daguitan said.

“I was supposed to visit our home in Tabuk last April, but my aunt sent me troubling news that some intelligence officers were going around our house asking about my whereabouts,” he added.

In a May decision on the Amparo petition filed by former Bayan Muna Representative Siegfried Deduro, the Supreme Court stated that “red-tagging threatens the right to life, liberty, and security.” #

The post Red-tagging persists despite Baguio’s human rights resolution appeared first on AlterMidya.

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