December 7, 2022

Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong is choosing “to take the high road” in supporting the government’s program against insurgency and communist-terrorist groups (CTG), despite being “taken out of context” by an official of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict about his order to take down tarps tagging alleged members of CTGs in Baguio and meeting with some members of cause-oriented groups.
However, he did not mince words in taking to task Usec. Lorraine Marie Badoy, NTF-Elcac spokesperson for sectoral concerns, for criticizing his move in a statement posted on the NTF-Elcac official social media account without fact-checking and observing due process.
Magalong, who heads the Cordillera Regional Peace and Order Council and vice chair of the Regional TF-Elcac, met with cause-oriented groups such as the Kabataan party-list to orient them on voters’ empowerment and good governance. He committed to address their concerns about being red-tagged, exposed, or vilified and assured the city will take measures to ensure their safety.
“Most of them are activists who have issues with the government, but they will never resort to violence and ally themselves with the CPP-NPA because I saw them and I know some of them. And it’s just right to protect their human rights,” he said.
He then ordered the removal of tarpaulins bearing pictures and names of CTG members which include activists and members of left-leaning movements.
In its statement, the NTF-Elcac accused Magalong of giving protection to organizations that he knows are fronts of CPP-NPA-NDF that lure children to be violent extremists. This, it claimed, underscores betrayals Filipinos suffer from those who are supposed to protect them.
Among others, it claimed the directive to take down the tarpaulins is a violation of the Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s directive.
Magalong said it is upsetting that after all those years of fighting insurgents and risking his life several times he will be wrongly accused, bullied, and attacked on social media.
“I believe and have been defending the program because of its unprecedented accomplishments, and I am still very much committed in fighting CTGs. We are partners in this campaign. We should have talked to each other, support each other. We should be moving in one direction. Hindi ‘yung binu-bully kami, inaatake kami, hindi ‘yung binabastos kami. ‘Yung strong partners ninyo tulad namin sa LGU, huwag niyo namang papahiyain at huhusgahan kasi hindi n’yo rin alam kung ano yung pinaghirapan at ginawa namin.
Be objective, be circumspect, be professional. Observe due diligence and due process. So masakit, but we will not go down to that level and we will take the high road. What is important is we are on the side of truth,” Magalong said.
“May mga insinuations na nakikipag-alliance ako sa kanila (CPP-NPA), betraying my country. Kami pa, ako pa? Tanungin sana nila ang members ng RTF-Elcac who can attest who I am as a vice chair of RTF-Elcac, kung ano ang stand ko at ano ang mga nagawa namin as a local government unit,” he said.
Magalong stressed the experience will not diminish his resolve to continue fighting for what is right and protect the government from insurgency, but there are heavy-handed officials that burn bridges instead of building bridges, spoiling the gains of the program.
He said Badoy tried to get in touch with him last week but they have yet to talk about the issue. – Hanna C. Lacsamana