Baguio police tag journalist as 'communist front organization personality'

Baguio police tag journalist as 'communist front organization personality'

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines —  Police have wrongly tagged the managing editor of a Northern Luzon online newspaper as an affiliate of a communist front organization, National Union of Journalists Auditor Kimberly Quitasol said.

Quitasol, also an officer of the NUJP Baguio-Benguet chapter, condemned the inclusion of colleague Sherwin De Vera in the police's "Blotter Journal" as part of a supposed communist front organization (CFO).

In a post on his Facebook page, De Vera said: "So kahit sa pagcocover ng activity masasama ka sa blotter. At ano nanaman yang acronym na CFO (communist front organizations)?"

(So, even by just covering an activity, you'll be included in the police blotter. And what kind of new acronym is CFO?)

He also included a supposed portion of the police blotter report.

From Police Regional Office Cordillera Journal

Subject: Rally

Reference: SMS from Baguio CPO dated January 25, 2020. Please be informed that at around 5:45 PM of January 25, 2020, at Malcolm Square, Baguio City, CFO Personalities; Sarah Dekdeken, Abi Taningco, Rolando Jigs Grande, Christian Dave Rus, Lumiere Garido and Sherwin De Vera and more or less 30 members from CFO groups; Cordillera Peoples Alliance, Cordillera Movement against Tyranny, Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform, ANAKBAYAN CORDILLERA, INNABUYOG GABRIELA and UP STUDENT COUNCIL inviting everyone to join on said activity especially those who have relatives in the Middle East. Initial issues: No war with Iran, End US wars of aggression, yes for just peace. 

"By including De Vera in the report, the police also tags Northern Dispatch, in which he works as the managing editor as such," Quitasol said.

According to Quitasol, who is also a colleague of de Vera in Northern Dispatch, "baseless allegations by state forces like this have already costs him precious time and resources when he was jailed for trumped-charges and included in the unverified DOJ list of alleged CPP-NPA leaders." 

Police Col. Allen Rae Co, Baguio City police director, promised he "will look into it."

This is not the first time that Baguio police have made accusations against journalists in the city, Quitasol claimed. 

During protests against the quo warranto proceedings to remove Maria Lourdes Sereno as chief justice in 2018, the Baguio police also included in their report Quitasol's husband, Aldwin, who is also a correspondent for a national daily as "part of the CNN-linked organizations holding the protest". 

CNN is a government term used to refer to the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front.

Aldwin has recently been elected as president of the Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club, the widest group of Baguio and Benguet-based correspondents, broadcasters and media workers. He was also an officer of the Cordillera police press corps when he was tagged in the said police blotter report. 

"When did the coverage of rallies and protests became a crime or public disturbance that merits an entry in the police blotter?" Quitasol said in a question for the Baguio and Cordillera police.

"Red-tagging has no place in a democratic society, especially when it is done against journalists who are doing their responsibility to inform the people about events and issues," she also said.

Only last week,  alleged police intelligence agents were reported snooping on the activities in the city of a teachers' union.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers, which held a seminar on unionism last week, claimed police agents have been overtly “monitoring” their activities.

ACT claimed that a member of the staff of the catering service told them that someone claiming to be from the police station in Barangay Pacdal was asking last Friday "to let the police to be in charge of their catering services."  

On Saturday, the catering staff was reportedly approached again and asked if ACT had any protests planned.