Benjamin Magalong

Magalong to SMNI leader, hosts: No one is above the law

Sherwin de Vera
Magalong to SMNI leader, hosts: No one is above the law

WARNING. Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong warns three personalities of a media outfit they face accountability for using lies in a vilification campaign.

Baguio City LGU

The Baguio City mayor says young constituents must be saved from 'unnecessary vilification' and deserve to be kept safe from persecution and harassment

VIGAN CITY — Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong warned the leader and hosts of Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) on Monday, January 16, that they could face accountability for their constant practice of vilifying individuals.

In a statement released to media, Magalong admonished Apollo Quiboloy, leader of the religious sect Kingdom of Jesus Christ and owner of SMNI, former presidential communications office official Lorraine Badoy, and surrenderer Jeffrey Celis for accusing him of treason and conspiring with communist rebels.

“This tirade against me is unfounded and baseless, and has subjected my person to needless and undeserved condemnation,” the mayor said.

“In relation to the above-mentioned personalities who have acquired the habit of incessantly defaming people without an iota of evidence, be reminded that NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW,” Magalong added.

Magalong first earned the ire of the SMNI personalities in 2021, with his order to remove tarps and other materials tagging people’s organizations and youth groups as terrorists.

Quiboloy resurrected the attacks a statement in his program Spotlight, which SMNI uploaded on January 14.

Badoy and Celis accused Magalong in their program Laban ng Bayan on January 9 and January 13.

They also accused the mayor of ordering the removal of posters declaring the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) as persona non grata in the city.

However, Magalong’s order only covered materials that vilify cause-oriented groups and activists in the city. In June 2020, Magalong affirmed the resolution passed by the city council in January 2020, declaring communist rebels unwanted in the city.

Under his chairmanship, the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) endorsed Dumanon, Makitongtong (visit and talk), a program patterned from Tokhang, targeting individuals suspected of having links with communist rebels.

Decades of fighting NPA

Magalong has not recently made statements on human rights or against red-tagging.

He has been in the news for agreeing to join the panel evaluating high-ranking officials for links to drug cartels.

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Magalong said his service record as an officer of the Philippine Constabulary and the Philippine National Police speaks for his truthful service to the country.

The mayor recalled that he had been fighting communist guerrillas in Luzon and Mindanao since graduating from the Philippine Military Academy in 1982. His first assignment was in Abra, one of the country’s rebel strongholds in the 1980s, where he was wounded in combat.

“From that year to 2005, I staked my life fighting the CPP/NPA, leading my men not from the rear but up front in numerous operations,” he said.

“To be accused that I have turned my back on my lifelong commitment against the CPP/NPA is a grave insult that sweeps aside my lengthy and loyal service to the Philippines,” Magalong stated.

Citing his stint in the RPOC and vice chair of the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, Magalong said the “program continues to succeed in the Cordillera, notably with stronger support from the local communities and better perception from the public.”

Protecting Baguio youth

As the local chief executive of Baguio, Magalong said his loyalty to the Philippine government remains “unflinching.”

“I am safeguarding our young constituents from being subjected to unnecessary vilification by striving to ensure that our youth activists – not communists – in Baguio are safe from persecution and harassment,” he said.

“Youthful activism does not necessarily mean espousing a communist ideology,” the mayor added.

The mayor was also the subject of Badoy’s ire in March 2022 following his dialogue with cause-oriented groups in the city. During the meeting, the mayor reassured the safety of activists in the city and ordered the removal of posters red-tagging groups and individuals.

“If my actions as head of a local government are under question, let the due process be sternly observed. By all means, take the necessary steps that I be sanctioned, in accordance with procedures in place, without having to be publicly scorned over a non-issue,” Magalong said. – Rappler.com

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