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“Baguio court orders Cordillera police to stop red tagging youth activists
by Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News
Posted at Mar 26 2021 02:29 PM | Updated as of Mar 26 2021 02:38 PM


“Baguio court orders Cordillera police to stop red tagging youth activists
by Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News
Posted at Mar 26 2021 02:29 PM | Updated as of Mar 26 2021 02:38 PM

“Baguio court orders Cordillera police to stop red tagging youth activists

by Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 26 2021 02:29 PM | Updated as of Mar 26 2021 02:38 PM

    “A Baguio City court has ordered the Cordillera police to stop red tagging youth activists and their organizations, a first of such order in recent memory.

     “In an order dated March 24, Baguio City Regional Trial Court Branch 3 Judge Emmanuel Cacho Rasing directed the Cordillera PNP to “refrain during the pendency of this case from making any publication in social media or otherwise, which brands or tags petitioners and the organizations [where] they belong, as stated in the petition, as communist terrorists, NPA/CPP (New People’s Army/Communist Party of the Philippines) fronts, NPA/CPP recruiters.”

      “The court did not specifically issue a temporary restraining order, as the petitioners had sought, but ordered the Cordillera police to stop from publishing any material linking the petitioners to the communist movement.

      “The court order said the Cordillera PNP agreed during the March 24 hearing, without admitting any responsibility. It said the petitioners’ request to take down social media posts where they were red-tagged will be dealt with in the course of the hearings.

        “In a separate order on March 25, Rasing also issued a writ of amparo requiring the Cordillera PNP to explain within 5 days its lawful defenses to show that it “did not violate or threaten with violation the right to life, liberty and security” of the petitioners.

       “The writ of amparo petition was filed by Christian Dave Ruz, regional coordinator for Kabataan (Youth) Partylist Cordillera and convenor for Youth Act Now Against Tyranny for Baguio-Benguet; Deanna Louise Montenegro, spokesperson of the National Union of Students of the Philippines-Cordillera; Leandro Enrico Ponce, chairperson of the University of the Philippines Baguio University Student Council; and Keidy Transfiguracion, coordinator of the Cordillera Youth Center.

         “The youth leaders accused the police of being behind a series of social media posts and tarpaulins linking them to the CPP, its armed wing the New Peoples’ Army (NPA), and the National Democratic Front, after they took part in rallies and protest actions.

          “The youth leaders said that while some of the Facebook posts were made by fictitious accounts, others were made by “clearly police accounts” and shared by pages of other PNP entities.

          “Some of the posts contained false quotes attributed to them while a video directly named Montenegro, one of the petitioners, as a “CPP-NPA recruiter in Baguio City” with photos grabbed from her personal Facebook account.

       “The photos of all 4 youth leaders were also plastered on tarpaulins placed in different locations within Baguio City and Benguet on June 15 and from July 10 to 15, 2020, according to their petition.

           “A photo of Ruz in a roundtable discussion with the PNP, Armed Forces of the Philippines and government agencies was also used in a tarpaulin hung during a public gathering of a Philippine Army infantry division in Cagayan Valley in February last year.

         “The youth leaders said they received threatening messages as a result.

          “In their petition, they said the posts and the tarpaulins contained malicious imputations of the crime of terrorism and exposed them to real and imminent danger.

        “   “Through the red tagging, the petitioners were condemned by public trial — not by a court trial — in violation of their constitutional right to be presumed innocent. The red tagging against the petitioners violates their rights under the Bill of Rights specifically, Article III, Section 14 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution,” referring to the provision on presumption of innocence of the accused.

        “   “The posts which are repeated, or repackaged with the similar content, and re-posted within the local PNP network, create in the minds of law enforcement people a belief that petitioners are indeed enemies of the state who deserve to be summarily eliminated,” they alleged.

        “  “The quantity and frequency of the posts, the number of accounts used – whether appearing as PNP entities or unknown persons or trolls – point to the fact that the social media posts are not isolated occurrences. Rather, the posts, taken collectively, reveal a systematic effort to red tag the petitioners,” the petition read.

        “They sought a 20-day TRO and asked that the Police Regional Office Cordillera and Police Brig. Gen. R’Win Pagkalinawan, regional director, who were both named as respondents, be ordered to take down the social media posts and other forms of publicity.


        “The Baguio court ruling came as Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon filed a bill Thursday seeking a penalty of 10 years in prison for any state agent convicted of red tagging.

       “Sen. Drilon wants 10-year imprisonment for red-tagging

        “The bill classifies red tagging as “labeling, vilifying, branding, naming, accusing, harassing, persecuting, stereotyping, or caricaturing individuals, groups, or organizations as state enemies, left-leaning, subversives, communists, or terrorists as part of a counter-insurgency or anti-terrorism strategy or program, by any state actor, such as law enforcement agent, paramilitary, or military personnel.”

        “Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago welcomed Drilon’s bill and vowed to step up efforts at the House of Representatives to push for the passage of the Human Rights Defender bill.

        “ “We must demand justice and accountability for the relentless red tagging which caused graver human rights violations and killings of HRD (human rights defenders) and activists,” she added.

       “Rights groups alliance Karapatan said there should also be provisions disqualifying from public office government actors who commit red-tagging, and automatic protection orders for individuals who are red-tagged.

       “  “The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has deemed red-tagging a ‘persistent and powerful threat to civil society and freedom of expression,'” said Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay.

       “  “Red-tagging should have no place in a democratic society, and we believe that such measure to penalize it is especially urgent now amid the government’s massive red-tagging campaign targeting human rights defenders, civil society organizations, political activists and dissenters, and government critics,” Palabay added.

       “She emphasized that red tagging endangers people’s lives and threatens to violate their human rights.

       “  “Such rhetoric gravely threatens people’s lives, liberty, and security — such that it is effectively a death sentence, or a prelude to extrajudicial killings or other violations of civil and political rights,” she added.

       “On March 16, tarpaulins were seen on footbridges along EDSA bearing the face of Mandaluyong Judge Monique Quisumbing-Ignacio along with CPP-NPA logos, following her junking of the illegal possession of firearms and explosives case against journalist Lady Ann Salem and trade unionist Rodrigo Esparago.

         “SC urged to act on red-baiting of lawyers; judge gets red-tagged

      “The Supreme Court, in a rare public statement Tuesday, condemned the red tagging of the judge and has ordered Court Administrator Midas Marquez to conduct a probe, as it also hit killings and threats.”


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