2022 PH local races

Red-tagged politicians join Baguio mayor Magalong’s ‘Team Good Governance’ slate

Sherwin de Vera
Red-tagged politicians join Baguio mayor Magalong’s ‘Team Good Governance’ slate

'TEAM GOOD GOVERNANCE.' Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong and his slate.

Mayor Benjamin Magalong, who is seeking a second term, says the members of his inclusive slate were chosen 'based on their strengths'

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – Two candidates for city councilor who have been victims of red-tagging over the past years are part of the slate of Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, who is seeking a second term in May.

Human rights lawyer Jose Molintas and City Councilor Arthur Allad-iw, a former journalist, were among those on stage at the March 27 proclamation rally of Magalong’s Team Good Governance. They are both members of the Liberal Party (LP).

At a press conference on March 25, the start the local campaign period, Magalong explained that he made his team inclusive and selected the members based on their strengths. His group includes candidates from the Nationalist People’s Coalition, Nacionalista Party, and Liberal Party, as well as independent candidates. He said their belief in good governance brought them together. 

Molintas, one of the eight contenders who squared off against Magalong for the mayoral seat in 2019, is running for councilor. He underscored Magalong’s anti-corruption campaign and effort to reach out to all sectors in the city, including activist groups. 

Magalong said of Molintas: “When it comes to advocacy on good governance, on the truth, about human rights, which is a core and strong pillar of good governance, he is there…. That is the reason why when I learned that he is looking for a party that he can probably join, although he is affiliated with another party, I immediately grabbed the opportunity [to tell him] to join us.”

Allad-iw, who is seeking a third term as city legislator, said the mayor is swift to address issues on the rights and welfare of Baguio residents. He added while they sometimes have dissenting stands on issues in the city council, this “failed to dampen working relations for the betterment of Baguio.” 

Like Allad-iw and Molintas, Magalong is a victim of red-tagging.  

NTF-ELCAC spokesperson and Presidential Communications Operations Office Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy recently accused the retired police general of harboring communist front groups when he ordered the removal of tarpaulins red-tagging groups and personalities in his city. The mayor reminded Badoy to fact-check and observe due process before making such baseless accusations. 

Rights advocates 

Molintas is a Free Legal Assistance Group member and served as a city councilor from 2004 to 2007. The former Asia Representative to the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples also chaired the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) from 1995 to 1997. 

In March 2018, the Department of Justice included him among 649 individuals named in the proscription petition to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) as terrorist groups. The Manila court that reviewed the petition ordered the removal of the names of Molintas and four other high-profile personalities from the list.

Allad-iw served as national vice president of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) from 2004 to 2006. He was an editorial consultant and columnist for Northern Dispatch (Nordis) before trying his luck in politics in 2010. 

In 2018, an anonymous letter calling him a CPP-NPA sympathizer was sent to the mayor’s office after he sponsored a resolution urging the government to drop the names of Baguio City residents from the DOJ’s terrorist proscription petition.

He again experienced online red-tagging in 2020 for his move to remove people’s organizations accused of being fronts of communist rebels from the resolution declaring the CPP-NPA-NDFP as unwelcome in the city. It happened again in 2021 after he authored a resolution supporting the bill filed by Senator Franklin Drilon to criminalize red-tagging. – Rappler.com

Sherwin de Vera is a Luzon-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.