Human Rights Defenders Alert: Red-tagging and Vilifying Individuals Underway
April 30, 2019
Last April 26, 2019, Sunstar Davao Columnist Tyrone Velez received a comment online red-tagging and vilifying fellow SunStar Cagayan de Oro columnist and MSU-IIT Sociology Professor Arnold Alamon.
The statement in Cebuano accused Professor Arnold Alamon of being a propagandist for the New People’s Army. It ends with a threatening call for justice for the people that the writer and teacher supposedly fooled. Last April 10, 2019, his name was also included in a flyer distributed in Valencia City, Bukidnon vilifying him and other professionals and civilians as terrorists.
Medical Doctor Dr. Charles Marquez of Iligan City was also similarly harassed with a malicious meme posted online at just about the same time as Professor Arnold Alamon’s. A few days before, shady personalities went to his residence in Iligan City and posted vilifying materials on their very gate. It should be noted that last February 2019, the women Musni lawyers were also red-tagged in a statement circulated in a public event.
The red-tagging and vilification of professionals like Professor Arnold Alamon, Dr. Charles Marquez, and the women Musni lawyers who are practicing their civilian professions is alarming to say the least. The common thread that binds these people together is their conviction to serve the marginalized as teachers, doctors, and lawyers and standing up to the abuses and excesses of government as practice of their civic duty. The shared fear also is that, following the assassination of Atty. Ben Ramos, red-tagging and vilification are precursors to what is known in military parlance as neutralization.
The fact that the vilifying message for Professor Alamon was sent to a fellow columnist based in Davao who is also openly critical of government is a veiled threat against dissenting journalists. All in all, these are blatant attacks on constitutionally-guaranteed rights on academic freedom, freedom of the press, and the unhampered practice of the medical and legal professions and present indisputable evidences of the state of impunity we are in in Mindanao under martial law.
Professor Alamon is a Mindanao Sociologist whose research interests include indigenous peoples particularly the Lumad of Mindanao. He is also a scholar of peace and conflict studies and sits as the research coordinator of the Institute for Peace and Development in Mindanao of MSU-IIT. In the course of his academic, extension, and research work, he often finds himself inside communities in conflict. These encounters with people from all walks of life provide material for the articles, books, and research papers that he produces that the vilifying statement brushes aside as propaganda just because he gives voice to the voiceless in his work.
We, in the Movement Against Tyranny -Northern Mindanao or MAT-NMR, an alliance of organizations, professionals, church-people and individuals who have banded together in the midst of our nation’s spiraling descent to despotism, raise our great sense of alarm against these recent attacks. We also take exception over the malicious appropriation of our acronym by obvious state forces in order to sow confusion and mock our serious advocacies.
When peace advocates are muzzled through these underhanded tactics, it is clear that it is the silence of the graveyard that they wish to impose upon us instead of following the path to a just and lasting peace. When human rights defenders who are also teachers, writers, doctors, and lawyers are vilified and eventually silenced, who will document, listen, talk about, and address the suffering of our people under this violent regime?
Fr. Rolando Abejo
Movement Against Tyranny – Northern Mindanao Region