BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — Militant groups here have urged military and police officials to stop calling activists, particularly students, as “terrorists,” in anticommunist forums held on campuses.
The tagging put students “in real danger,” said members of the militant Cordillera Peoples Alliance during a dialogue with officials of the Baguio police, the Army, schools and the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) last week.
CHEd officials said they would address complaints of “Red-tagging or Red-baiting” that had been aired in lectures organized in schools by the mi¬litary, particularly the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.
But the forums never meant any harm, Brig. Gen. Henry Doyaoen, commander of the Army’s 503rd Infantry Brigade, said, adding that these simply alerted students about armed communist recruitment in schools.
The lectures included recor¬dings of Communist Party of the Philippines founder, Jose Maria Sison, ordering the communist rebels to expand the membership of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
In many cases, the forums also became opportunities for uniformed personnel to assure students that they should not be feared, Doyaoen said.
He said soldiers and policemen were also being vilified by human rights groups that accused them of involvement in extrajudicial killings.
He said the government was not targeting activists but had been protecting them from armed communist infiltration. “We don’t care what ideology you have, unless it is expressed violently,” he said.
Last month, some members of militant groups here sought protection from Mayor Benjamin Magalong, a former police general. “The unfounded, malicious and irresponsible accusations [that we are terrorists] pose serious threats to the lives, security and liberty of acti¬vists,” the letter said.
It said the “harassment was meant to weaken a healthy exercise of democracy” in the country.—Vincent Cabreza
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