By NITZ ARANCON
VICTIMS of red tagging in the city met with Mayor Oscar Moreno yesterday as they submitted a petition to seek protection from city hall.
Led by Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) Bishop Felixberto Calang, the victims appealed to Moreno to make the police identify and catch those behind the red tagging, and remove streamers or similar materials displayed in public to malign citizens who have been vocal against policies of the Duterte administration. They said Moreno should also make barangay officials help in removing red tagging materials.
The group also called on the city council to pass an ordinance against red tagging in the city, and for city hall to condemn the red tagging of citizens who have been exercising their right to free speech and expression.
Joining Calang were members of the Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM) and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP). These organizations have members who are red tagging victims.
The petition, submitted to city hall by Calang, was signed by IFI Obispo Maximo Rhee Timbang, Malaybalay Bishop Gil Dinapo, Libertad, Misamis Oriental Bishop Rudy Juliada, Koronadal Bishop Redeener Yañez, Tubod, Lanao del Norte Bishop Raul Amocillo, Ozamiz Bishop Carlo Morales, Oroquieta Bishop Noel Batoy, Surigao Bishop Romeo Tagud, Cabadbaran Bishop Delfin Callano, Cortes Bishop Julius Dacena, Davao Bishop Denny Dapitan, and the reverends Christopher Ablon, Rolando Abejo and Allan Khen Apus.
Also signing the document were JB Deveza of the NUJP safety office in western Mindanao, NUJP-Cagayan de Oro chairperson Pamela Orias, lawyer Beverly Musni of the Makabayang Koalisyon ng Mamamayan, and lawyer Dale Bryan Mordeno, chairman of the Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao. Incidentally, Mordeno is also Mayor Moreno’s lawyer.
The petitioners called on the local government to declare Cagayan de Oro a “red tagging-free” city.
Bishop Calang said the victims decided to bring the matter to the attention of Moreno because citizens in the city are being tagged as communist rebels or supporters without evidence almost every month.
“Last nga pag red-tag sa amo didto sa Libertad nga ang ilang pasangil batok kanamo ilang gibutang daplin sa highway,” Calang said.
He said the IFI leaders were already dismayed because police have not identified any suspect until now so that the victims could press charges.
“Ingon ang pulis, wala kunoy ilang lead, mao nang wala gyu’y resulta ang ilang imbistigasyon,” Calang said.
Calang’s group said red tagging should be considered a criminal act.