MAYOR Benjamin Magalong found himself the object of red-baiting after asking the police to stop bringing out posters and social media posts red-baiting residents and groups in the city.
He also denied the allegations of National Task Force ELCAC Undersecretary Lorraine Marie Badoy and the League of Parents of the Philippines that he is aligning with Leftists and cause-oriented groups, especially as he heads the ELCAC regional task force.
Magalong also said that he does not condone acts that violate the human rights of activists, including intimidation, vilification, and fact-twisting in social media.
Badoy, in a statement posted on social media, castigated Magalong for betraying the government by issuing “directives that give cover to the CPP-NPA-NDF front Kabataan Partylist,” particularly the mayor’s orders to the city police to take down posters and tarpaulins linking activists to the insurgents.
“He has made it exceedingly clear to our people why this communist terrorist scourge has lasted as long as it has: it’s not just because of the tenacious deceit of the terrorist CPP-NPA-NDF but also because of politicians like Mayor Magalong who participate in the deceit and who would put our children in harm’s way,” Badoy said.
The mayor slammed Badoy for irresponsibly issuing the statement without first checking her facts.
“Badoy’s statement is irresponsible, irrelevant, and completely absurd as it was done without due process and due diligence. I risked my life fighting the insurgents; hence, I consider her statement as an insult. I am willing to face her and others who claim the same in public and debate with them. I am on the side of truth and I did not do anything wrong to undermine the ELCAC Program,” the mayor said.
“Local government units should be ELCAC’s strong partners. We should support each other and cooperate with one another. Bullying and manipulating facts damage that relationship. They twist the facts and shout over social media. This tactic erodes the unprecedented gains of ELCAC. Stories empower and enlighten. But if it is intended to malign and tainted with negative thoughts and hatred, it robs people of their dignity. Sadly, they just did that to me,” the mayor lamented.
Magalong said his engagement with the activists allowed them to ventilate their sentiments from allegedly being victims of red-tagging and other forms of intimidation allegedly by uniformed men.
He said he assured them that they are safe in the city and ordered the city police to disallow posters displaying photos of individuals and linking them to communist-terrorist groups.
But his plea might have fallen on deaf ears after reports of red-baiting remained unabated even after Magalong’s directive.
UP Outcrop, however, said that the police still hanged red-baiting posters in St. Joseph Village last Friday.
“Organizations such as the League of Filipino Students, Anakbayan, and one of UPB’s political organizations, Alliance of Concerned Students, among others were directly red-tagged by a group named Patriotic Filipinos of Baguio City,” Outcrop reported.
Magalong said ELCAC’s role is to “build bridges” and promote due process and one way to do it is to reach out to the affected sectors and hear them as he did by engaging them.
“The best way to defeat an insurgency is through good governance. It is not only about delivering basic services but mainly through innovation, transformation, competent leadership, and respect for human rights,” the mayor said.
“ELCAC has good programs and its accomplishments against insurgency are unprecedented. But the problem is if there are high-handed people who resort to intimidation, vilification, and truth manipulation, these acts would only result in radicalizing people and driving them further away from the government,” he said.
“After all, marami sa kanila are just activists voicing out issues against the government but they will never resort to violence and align themselves with the CPP-NPA. I can say this because I saw them, kilala ko naman iba sa kanila. Besides, it is just right to protect their human rights. Tama lang instead of them being displayed without due process because if we do, what will happen to the families, their children? Are we not radicalizing them?” the mayor said.
He said this however does not mean that he had turned his back on the government’s anti-insurgency program.
“Does it diminish my resolve to fight insurgency? No, it does not. If you will see the video of what transpired in the meeting, I was even defending the program because I believe in the ELCAC program with its unprecedented accomplishments. Nakita ko paano nag-unify through the whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach to really fight the communist-terrorist group. It never happened before – the entire government moving in one direction – ang laki ng gains because of ELCAC. I know it, I have been through a lot of administrations and I saw a big difference now,” the mayor said.
“I am still very much committed to fighting the communist terrorist group I hope they will continue supporting and sustaining the ELCAC program,” he added. – with reports by Aileen P. Refuerzo