June 14, 2024

Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong has been asked to take a stronger stand on communist insurgency and guard himself from deceptive ploy of groups and individuals associated with the underground movement.
The Movement of United Mothers Against Terrorism made the call after Magalong, in some instances, were seen attending activities of known left-leaning groups in the city, which have been painting the government and its leaders as neglectful to promote their agenda.
The group’s spokesperson, Aurea Annabelle Gallao, shared that Magalong intention was questioned by concerned sectors when the Facebook account of a youth group identified with the left bragged in its post that one of its leaders is being endorsed by the mayor.
But Magalong has clarified to reporters on March 22 that attending to activities of various groups and speaking before the youth group members are part of his functions as a public official. 
Magalong primarily called for a press conference to inform National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) officials that he is not siding with the left and due diligence must be observed by concerned officials before giving statements accusing local officials of supporting communist rebels or their supporters.
“It pains me that after all these years of service, fighting insurgents from the time I graduated in 1982 until I was Special Action Force, I was leading my men upfront, not from the rear, fighting this communist terrorist only to be disregarded in an instant,” said Magalong, a retired decorated military and police officer.
“The best way to defeat the insurgents is through good governance,” he added.
Gallao has acknowledged Magalong’s stand that his only intent is to display a good example of good governance and that it is about being innovative and transformational. 
“Such interpretation of good governance is commendable but could be done without giving in to the ploy of leftist groups whom we all know have always painted the government as neglectful despite obvious delivery of services and employment of mechanisms to promote transparency,” Gallao said.
“The mayor himself said during his March 22 interview that “red-tagging” is not a policy of the government. It could have been wiser if this was the message he gave to the leftist groups who keep on using the term to malign every effort of the government to address the insurgency problem,” she added.
She recalled the city mayor was still in police service when one Ma. Finela Mejia, then a student in Baguio City, had joined a youth group identified with the left. Mejia along with two other rebels were killed by government troopers in Sta. Lucia, Ilocos Sur in February 2020.
“The mayor has explained in his interview that he is engaging various sectors to promote voter’s education. Again, this is a noble act but should be coupled with effort to call the voters to be more discerning of the intentions of groups that pretend to share their aspirations and truly fight for their interests but are actually using them for some underlying political agenda,” she said. 
Earlier, Magalong, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class 1984, is presently the vice-chair of the Cordillera Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, which he said, can vouch for his integrity and passion in fighting communist terrorists. – Harley F. Palangchao