Issue of September 12, 2021
Mt. Province

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CHR: Red tagging news site is human rights violation
by Ofelia C. Empian

The Commission on Human Rights-Cordillera has reported the red-tagging by the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines against online news site Northern Dispatch and its editorial staff members is a form of human rights violation.

In separate resolutions, the CHR-Cordillera upheld the rights of the Northern Dispatch or Nordis personnel led by Editor-in-Chief Kimberlie Quitasol and Managing Editor Sherwin de Vera.

Quitasol filed before CHR a complaint in June 2020 on behalf of Nordis due to then NTF-ELCAC spokesperson Gen. Antonio Parlade’s statement that Nordis is a creation of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

De Vera, meanwhile, filed a complaint in March 2020 against the Baguio City Police Office for tagging him in one of its police blotters as a “communist front organization personality” when he covered an event at Malcolm Square in Baguio.

“The act itself of red-tagging human rights defenders constitutes a threat to their lives, liberty, and security,” reads the resolution of CHR-Cordillera.

Also, it stated that red tagging should not be taken lightly.

“Aside from its consequent delegitimization of dissent and public stigmatization, it is, more often than not, a prelude, or even an open invitation for anyone, to commit further atrocities against the person tagged,” it added.

CHR-Cordillera has reminded the government to promote and protect human rights without discrimination.

“This office equally emphasizes the responsibility of non-State actors to respect the rule of law in their quest for human rights. Thus, the red-tagging of Northern Dispatch as a creation of the CPP and its personnel as communist front personalities constitutes human rights violations,” the resolution stated.

The CHR advised the PNP and the AFP, as protectors of human rights, should stop red-tagging and labelling organizations and individuals as communist front organizations and/or personalities.

Instead, state forces should file the proper charges in the appropriate agencies if there are violations made by certain individuals or groups.

“The findings of CHR-CAR is a welcome development amid the unrelenting and vicious attacks against journalists and media institutions. The resolution further validates the institutionalized practice of red-tagging within the military and police units,” Quitasol said.

Nordis is a Baguio-based alternative online news outfit established in September 1989 by progressive journalists and writers in Northern Luzon.

From a news dispatch, it grew into a weekly newspaper in 2002 and became fully digital in January 2019.

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