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BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – A red-tagged Baguio journalist has urged the Commission on Human Rights regional office in the Cordillera to request Meta to provide the internet protocol (IP) addresses of Facebook accounts posting “malicious and dangerous allegations,” associating him with the communist rebels.
“Red-tagging on Facebook and other social media platforms is a form of online violence and hate speech that usually translates to real-world threats and attacks against the victims,” said Northern Dispatch managing editor Sherwin De Vera in an interview in August 19.
“That is why I am asking CHR to take their probe on red-tagging cases further and require social media giants to provide information that could help investigators and the victims identify the perpetrators especially for ‘troll accounts’ peddling these vicious lies,” he added.
Aside from obtaining the IP address, De Vera also asked CHR Cordillera to inform Meta of the dangers of red-tagging and request the removal of accounts committing the acts, citing advisory and resolution from the office on red-tagging.
“Since your advisory and resolution categorized red-tagging as a threat against life, liberty, and security, may I also urge your office to call on Meta to takedown pages and accounts that have been reported to your office for red-tagging individuals. You can inform the company that red-tagging posts are violent threats, harassment, and hate speech that violates their community standards,” in his August 18 letter to CHR Cordillera Director Romel Daguimol.
De Vera filed a complaint before CHR Cordillera on August 18 following a red-tagging incident on Facebook on August 11, a day before his scheduled talk on combating disinformation at the ‘Media and Information Summit’ in La Trinidad, Benguet. The Sangguniang Kabataan La Trinidad and Cordillera Career Development College hosted the event for the Youth Week celebration.
A certain Allen Dondon uploaded photos of De Vera with former Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo and former Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate, and accused him of being a “former political officer of the KLG AMPIS of the NPA.” The post also alleged that De Vera was involved in several actions of the rebels – such as arson and attempted murder and got out of jail “with the aid of the National Democratic Front.”
KLG AMPIS is an acronym used by the police and military in their press releases to refer to NPA guerrillas operating in the tri-boundary of Abra, Mountain Province, and Ilocos Sur.
Another Facebook page, Silaw ti Norte, uploaded a video insinuating the same allegations. Allen Dondon also shared the video to supposedly boost his claims.
De Vera was arrested in December 2017 for a trumped-up rebellion charge in Abra. He was released on bail a month after. The courts dismissed the case in September 2020, noting “the state had no evidence to present” against him.
CHR Cordillera also released separate resolutions on June 24, assailing the red-tagging of De Vera and Northern Dispatch by state security forces. The ruling stated that “red-tagging is a matter of serious concern that should not be taken lightly…. (It is) a prelude, or even an open invitation for anyone, to commit further atrocities against the person tagged.” – Rappler.com