By JIGGER J. JERUSALEM
THE Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID) yesterday denied being behind the red tagging of two prominent journalists in the city.
“We don’t do that (red tagging) because in the first place, we gain nothing from it,” said 4th ID commander Brig. Gen. Franco Nemesio Gacal said during a dialogue between the military and the local chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.
The military denial came after flyers were circulated again about the alleged links of journalists Leonardo Vicente “Cong” Corrales and Froilan Gallardo to the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing New People’s Army (NPA). Corrales is the associate editor and Gallardo is a special correspondent of this paper.
Gacal said called those behind the red tagging as employing “scare tactics” to spread “cheap propaganda” against journalists and other personalities.
He said it could be that the red tagging of Corrales and Gallardo was politically motivated, saying the journalists might have antagonized a political figure in their reports. He said it could also be personal and those behind it used the red tagging to get back at them, or it could be the handiwork of the NPA purposely to drive a wedge between the media and the military.
Gacal assured that the military is conducting an investigation and are coordinating with the police on this.
“The only way to stop this is really to get to the bottom of this kind of activity. We have to identify those behind this red tagging,” he said.
He said journalists who are victims of red tagging must not be afraid, saying that showing fear would only embolden the perpetrators.
NUJP chapter chairperson Pamela Jay Orias said her group has also conducted its own investigation as the union is now preparing to take legal action once the culprits have been identified.
“Only when the perpetrators are identified and captured will the red tagging victims feel safe,” Orias said.
She said the media, including the NUJP here, have had a “good relationship” with Army. She said the NUJP even partnered with the 4th ID in the past in conducting media safety trainings.
“They are also good sources of our stories,” Orias said.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International on Tuesday urged the Duterte administration to act on the red tagging incidents.
“The authorities must seriously investigate all threats against the two journalists and others who have been ‘red-tagged’; take proactive steps to protect the safety and other rights of journalists and others at risk; and ensure and environment that allows individuals to undertake their professions without fear of violence and other reprisals,” the group said.
It said branding individuals and organizations as “communist fronts” has become a means to endanger their lives, leaving them at risk of harassment and attacks.