We, the media workers of Baguio and Benguet are enraged on the renewed step of the supposed to be promoters of peace and harmony in the community to subject their targets to dialogues and such through their recently designed “Dumanon, Makitongtong” which is undeniably the same with their previous “Tokhang” approach to activists, church workers and media personalities. The two were aimed to corner people who the State presumes are “left-leaning” because of being critical and vocal against irregularities and abuses. They also target media personalities who chose to be not simply writing or broadcasting stories but delivering or revealing what is really happening to the people and what are the ills of the society.
Last year, as most of the Filipinos are struggling to survive from the disease and much more from the economic impact of the imposed lockdowns, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) together with so-called civil society organizations in the Cordillera Region are both busy in identifying personalities they will subject to “Tokhang” style. They claim that the “tokhang” approach to the activists and some media personalities who they already tagged as connected to the left or the Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP) is peaceful and will only persuade the individuals to stop whatever they are doing. Many know what happened to thousands of poor Filipinos because of the “Tokhang” approach in the drug war of this present administration. Many fell dead, thousands were widowed, orphaned, and homeless because of the “nanlaban” word.
Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club Inc. (BCBC) President Aldwin Quitasol was summoned to a dialogue by officers of the Philippine Army (PA) and the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) last year. And this January 2022, he is again being summoned to a dialogue with the Army and the Police through their so-called Community-Based Dialogue (CBD) for whatever purpose.
One of the BCBC officers revealed that he received two phone calls last year from the Police asking him to sit with them in a dialogue. He declined and it is his right.
We see such steps as a form of harassment! And moreover red-tagging of us. We as media workers especially us journalists are only doing our job in bringing out what is true and exposing the lies. Writing or talking about issues concerning the people and how they respond to their situation is part of our job. Why are we being subjected to such dialogues as if we are really being monitored? And it is never a crime to speak out the truth and be with the people.
We urge the law enforcers to stop this “Dumanon Makitongtong” to the activists and media personalities. Subjecting them to such is already a form of red-tagging as they are already identified without their knowledge and without due process. We are also appealing to our elected government officials especially the lawmakers to intercede and make a stand in the protection of our rights to decline such “invitations” of “Dumanon Makitongtong”. Press Release from the Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club.