Red tag issue takes center stage in Baguio candidates forum

Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong’s opposition to red flagging encourages other local candidates to speak out on the issue

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — Concerns over red flagging have emerged as one of the election issues in the country’s summer capital, with female contestants expressing concern at a women candidates forum on Thursday, March 31.

“I will support this [legislation]. I don’t like the red marking because it is abused…. In Baguio we are a very peaceful place and all that red marking [do] actually restricts freedom of expression,” re-elected councilor Mylène Yaranon said at the Forum on Women’s Agenda and Governance Issues (WAGI).

Five of the nine women candidates attended the forum sponsored by the Gender Studies Program at the University of the Philippines Baguio Kasarian, the All UP Academic Employees Union (AUPAEU) Baguio and the Cordillera Women’s Education and Action Research Center (CWEARC ).

Besides Yaranon, only three other bets have presented ideas on the issues raised by representatives of sectors and advocacy groups – outgoing adviser Lulu Tabanda and newcomer candidates Pam Cariño and Marlene De Castro.

Vice mayoral candidate Elaine Sembrano left before the open forum for a major scheduled appearance elsewhere.

De Castro said there should be a thorough study “to regulate red marking”.

“It has to go through a process. There should be a dialogue with local governments and individuals or groups [involved in the issue] for clarification on their advocacy. From there, we can move forward together and negotiate how to effectively respond to this,” she said.

De Castro added that while “red flagging doesn’t create chaos in communities,” officials also need to protect their constituents from radical allegations.

Cariño stressed that not all government critics and activists are communists or rebels.

“A dialogue with them is a good way to determine what they think needs to change in the community. It is through communication that we can come to understand the issues at hand and what is being done or needs to be done,” she said.

CWEARC Executive Director Cynthia Dacanay-Jaramillo said at the previous women’s candidates forum in the city, red marking was not a significant election issue.

“This time, the issue is a high part of the agenda because the practice has become a tool to defame people advocating legitimate concerns, smear progressive candidates and discredit the pro-grassroots policies of elected officials who go to court. against the reasoning of the Duterte government,” she said.

“It has become so endemic that even individuals not affiliated with militant groups or simply expressing their disagreement with the Duterte government are becoming victims,” Dacanay-Jaramillo added.

According to Ruel Caricativo, political science professor and director of the AUPAEU board of directors, the fact that red marking takes center stage as an electoral issue in Baguio means that the candidates recognize that the progressive mass movement can sway the votes.

He also said Mayor Benjamin Magalong’s statements and actions have also encouraged local candidates to speak out against red flagging.

Earlier this month, Magalong ordered the removal of posters identifying groups and individuals in the city as communist fronts or sympathizers. His action led NTF-ELCAC spokeswoman Lorraine Badoy to accuse him of supporting alleged communist front groups. –

Sherwin De Vera is a Luzon-based journalist and winner of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.

Melvin B. Baillie