December 2, 2022

Media and left-leaning personalities are the next target of law enforcers in the fight against insurgency.
The Regional Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee (RLECC) passed a resolution that sought to adopt a tokhang style in convincing “left-leaning personalities in government, media, and other entities to return to the folds of government and dissuade them from supporting Marxist-Maoist inspired rebellion, and its known front organizations.”
The undated resolution furnished to the media by the Police Regional Office-Cordillera was signed by around 45 regional directors of government agencies including the Commission on Human Rights.
The Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club, an umbrella organization of media outlets in the Cordillera, has expressed disapproval of the RLECC’s decision. It also appealed to the Regional Development Council whose members include elected chief executives to reject the RLECC resolution.
The BCBC said the tokhang strategy is tantamount to gagging media in its quest in reporting the truth. The group also questioned at whose discretion will the definition of “left-leaning” or “leftists” be derived.
The BCBC said regardless of the leanings of their sources, the responsibility of media is to report what is said and done in order to inform the public and foster an open exchange of ideas and opinion.
“The media write or bring out news from the mouth of the news sources whether ‘leftists,’ ‘rightists’ or ‘centrists.’ Writing about the statement of anyone should not be mistaken as support for the news sources. It is about bringing out the information and truth the people deserve to know,” the BCBC statement reads.
In a legal opinion released by the National Union of Peoples Lawyers, it said the RLECC resolution is illegal and unconstitutional.
The NUPL said the resolution is a violation of the right to due process; it is a threat to the life and liberties of individuals whom law enforcers believe are “left-leaning”; it authorizes law enforcers to intrude into the homes of suspected left-leaning individuals; it enables law enforcers to intimidate critics and activists from pursuing their advocacies; and tokhang style cannot help solve insurgency.
Last Feb. 25, CHR-Cordillera Director Romel Daguimol withdrew his signature in the resolution.
He said the CHR does not condone use of armed struggle to topple the government but maintained that activism is not a crime and the public should be free to express legitimate dissent and grievances for the government to act on. – Rimaliza A. Opiña