NUJP calls on officials to protect red-tagged journalists, personalities in CDO

MANILA, Philippines – The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) on Wednesday, August 28, asked local government and security officials to ensure the safety of journalists and other personalities involved in a recent red-tagging incident in Cagayan de Oro.

In a statement Wednesday, the NUJP said Iglesia Filipina Independiente priest Father Rolando Abejo and a city hall employee who had earlier been red-tagged received "new anonymous red-tagging materials" against Abejo, former NUJP director and journalist Leonardo Vicente "Cong" Corrales, Mindanews' Froilan Gallardo, human rights lawyer Beverly Musni, and other personalities.

The NUJP said the materials separately targeted Corrales and Gallardo. The "crudely-produced flyer" that targeted Corrales came from a certain "Black Mamba" of the "MAT-NMR Press Club Chapter" and claimed, among others, that there's a P1-million bounty for his death.

The materials that came from a courier service identified the sender as a certain Danilo Tirso Mantangan of Sitio Camansi, Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental

"Asked what he could have done to earn so much hatred as to seek his death, Cong said the only reason he knows is a column he wrote on the treatment Higaonon evacuees from Sitio Camansi, Barangay Banglay in Lagonglong town, Misamis Oriental, had received when they descended on Cagayan de Oro to seek help from the provincial government," the NUJP said regarding the threat against Corrales.

The flyer that Abejo received, meanwhile, included a list of organizations and personalities supposedly linked to communist rebels. Gallardo was in this list.

"Froilan said he might have been targeted because he had interviewed the New People's Army on a raid [where the rebels] seized a number of weapons from security guards of Minergy Power Corp," the NUJP noted.

This is not the first time some of these personalities have been red-tagged in an anonymous material. In February, an anonymous list distributed to CDO journalists also tagged several groups and individuals as members of the Communist Party of the Philippines. This earlier list included the names of Abejo, Corrales, and Musni.

"It is not as if our colleagues have not alerted and sought the help of local officials and the local security community," the NUJP said on Wednesday. It warned that "unless contained," the threats against these personalities "could escalate."

"We hold that the reason the red-tagging, particularly of Cong, has worsened to actually turn potentially deadly is because of the apparent lack of interest of local government and security units to protect those so threatened and to go after and prosecute those responsible for this clearly dangerous vilification," the group said.

The NUJP urged its colleagues in Cagayan de Oro and Northern Mindanao to demand from their local government and security officials "the protection you are entitled to." –