CEGP slams AFP ‘redtagging’ tour in schools

THE College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), the broadest alliance of campus journalists, condemns in highest possible terms the recent consecutive cases of “redtagging” in which the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has branded the institution as a front for the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Yesterday, the AFP conducted a symposium at the Cagayan State University-Carig campus and identified the CEGP as a member organization of the CPP. “Ito yung linalanguyan nila na organisasyon na nakatayo na sa loob ng eskwelahan…isa ito sa tukoy na kasapi ng CPP,” said a woman whom the soldiers claimed as a former member of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the CPP.

The symposium was conducted only eight days after another forum of the same kind was held at Palawan State University. The military also linked the CEGP and other youth organizations to the insurgency.

“The AFP is endangering the lives of campus journalists by tagging CEGP as a communist front. By declaring that CEGP is a member organization of the CPP, the AFP is essentially tagging the institution as an enemy of the state. Hence, the members of the publications under CEGP can be targets for neutralization, a military term for killing or abduction,” said Pauline Gidget Estella, national president of CEGP, an 81 year old institution that has a long roster of alumni luminaries such as veteran journalist Malou Mangahas.

The military even went as far as to warn the students in joining legal progressive organizations that it claims to be part of the CPP. “Ginagawa namin ito para sa inyo. Kami ang iyong mapagkakatiwalaan …Gusto niyo bang umuwi nang naka-kabaong?” said one of the soldiers during the symposium, adding that the students must report those who are active in such organizations.

“May we remind the AFP that the CEGP is a democratic and patriotic institution of campus journalists that is now in its 81st year and has a notable track record in campaigning for press freedom. Any congruence in the stance of the CEGP and that of the CPP is incidental and the two are separate and distinct. If the CEGP criticizes the policies of the government, this is because the Guild has observed actual and recurring instances of incompetence, not because it is part of CPP,” said Estella.

“Even if an individual has beliefs leaning toward communism or socialism, the government has no right to persecute him or her. According to international rules and regulations, every person has a right to hold his or her own beliefs and has the freedom to articulate them,” explained Estella.

“The problem with the Aquino administration is that it does not distinguish between the armed rebels and members of legal and progressive organizations. They are preventing the people from exercising their constitutional rights and creates a climate of fear in which intellectual discourses cannot thrive,” said Estella.

“The AFP has been tagging the CEGP in numerous symposia and activities held inside schools when these soldiers do not even have the slightest idea of what the CEGP is all about, of what progressive organizations are, let alone what communism means. It is therefore not surprising that the human rights violations committed against members of progressive organizations continue under the term of Aquino,” said Estella.

“The military is engaging in this kind of activities at a time when the international community is questioning the utter incompetence of the Aquino administration in resolving human rights violations and at a time when the International Human Rights Day is approaching,” said Estella.

The CEGP and other sectoral organizations will hold a series of activities on the week of December 1 to 7 or the Human Rights Week.

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