By JIGGER JERUSALEM
THE capitol has denied knowing anything about a streamer hanged near the Press Freedom Monument that tagged two media organizations as allies of the New People’s Army (NPA).
The monument stands on the capitol-owned de Lara Park, facing the building owned by the Cagayan de Oro Press Club (COPC) along Apolinar Velez Street.
The black streamer was hanged on the side fence of the monument and was noticed as early as Saturday.
The Office of Assistant Provincial Administrator denied ever receiving a request from anyone or group to hang the streamer that angered the city’s media workers and leaders who saw it at the start of the 37th Press Freedom Week (PFW) here Monday morning.
After hearing mass at the monument, they took the streamer and burned it for the “red-tagging” of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) as among progressive groups supposedly supporting the NPA.
The streamer reads: “Kauban sa teroristang NPA: Karapatan, NUJP, UPLM, NUPL, RMP, LFS, SCMP, CEGP, COURAGE.”
Most of the groups mentioned have been critical to the Duterte administration. Karapatan is a human rights watchdog. UPLM stands for Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao, NUPL for National Union of People’s Lawyers, RMP for Regional Missionaries of the Philippines, LFS for League of Filipino Students, CEGP for College Editors Guild of the Philippines.
“This is a sign of rejection, this is red-tagging. One of the groups mentioned (NUJP) is part of the executive committee of the Press Freedom Week,” said Michael Bustamante, a radio commentator and president of the Philippine National Police Press Corps in Region 10.
Pamela Jay Orias, a reporter of a local daily and chairperson of the NUJP-Cagayan de Oro chapter, said red-tagging of groups critical to the government is nothing new.
“We condemn this red-tagging. We don’t understand their point, and why we have been red-tagged over the years,” Orias said.
“If they have issues against the NUJP, they should bring this to the proper forum,” she said.
Uriel Quilinguing, a former COPC president and PFW overall coordinator, said the red-tagging of NUJP is a “baseless accusation.”
He said the condemnation of red-tagging is timely considering that this year’s PFW theme is “A United Media in the Face of Threats.”
In spite of the challenges the members of the local media have been facing, they have remained strong and resolute in bringing the news to the public, said Monsignor Elmer Abacahin, another former COPC president, who officiated the Monday morning mass at the monument.