Issue of December 2, 2018

71th Courier Anniversary Issue
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Police apologizes for red-tagging Baguio students in FB post
by Aileen P. Refuerzo / PIO

The Baguio City Police Office has apologized to the youth and student groups in the city whose safety may have been compromised by a warning that implied their supposed connection and recruitment of members for the reported Red October Movement to oust Pres. Rodrigo Duterte.

Responding to the summons of the city council to appear in its session last Nov. 26, BCPO Acting City Police Director S/Supt. Eliseo Tanding, however, assured that they have neither harassed or “red tagged” students as alleged by representatives of Youth Act Now Against Tyranny, College Editors Guild of the Philippines, Kabataan Partylist, and National Union of Students in the Philippines in nine complaints they have filed before the Commission on Human Rights-Cordillera.

The complaints stemmed from a post of the BCPO in its official social media account urging parents to guide and love their children further to keep them from being lured by leftist group leaders, who were named in the post as initiating the Red October plot.

The youth groups considered the post malicious and groundless.

“(The post) is just a part of our mandated task to protect citizens. We did not harass or red tagged them,” Tanding assured the groups and members of the city council.

Kung mayroon mang masamang naidulot ito, kami ay humihingi ng sorry sa inyo. Do not worry, hindi gagawa ang ating kapulisan ng ikakasama (ng ating mga anak na estudyante),” he added, also clarifying that the social media post, which BCPO has reposted, only intended to serve as a warning or reminder to residents on the welfare of their children.

Tanding added that the police respect freedom of expression as showed by 25 rallies by legitimate youth organizations were freely conducted in the city this year.

Marben Palansigui of Youth Act Now said the red tag was malicious because it also accused them of recruiting students to join the movement and communist groups. He said it has caused trauma and anxiety among some of their members who have been allegedly visited, questioned, and harassed by the police in their homes.

He said they are members of legitimate groups and are in fact active partners of the police and the city government in various activities.

“Some of them now refuse to come out for fear for their safety as in some places there are those who have disappeared or massacred. It is the first time that this happened and so we are surprised,” Palansigui said, as they acknowledged the BCPO head’s apology.

CHR Regional Director Romel Daguimol said the complaints are currently undergoing initial investigation after the CHR central office endorsed them to the regional office.

He appealed to the BCPO to consider taking down the post from its social media page because its contents at face value can be construed as red tagging.

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