/ 2 September 2020

THE College Editors Guild of the Philippines urged the public to stop “normalizing” red-tagging as a means to “attack” free speech after a Tarlac student drew flak for his controversial graduation photo.

Red-tagging is an act of branding people as members or sympathizers of the New People’s Army or the Communist Party of the Philippines, for being vocal critics of the government.

The statement came after netizens who are vocal supporters of the Duterte administration attacked Jejomar Contawe, a communication graduate of the Tarlac State University, and a member of the CEGP – Central Luzon Chapter, after his graduation picture holding a sign saying “ISKOLAR NG FILIPINO TAXPAYERS HINDI NG F****** GOVERNMENT” made rounds on social media.

CEGP noted that Contawe’s position regarding the matter is “factual” and emphasized that people should not feel indebted to the government for free education.

The group also stated that the public outrage was “wrongfully” channeled as Contawe is just exercising his constitutional right and being a vocal critic of the administration should not be a leeway for red-tagging.

“The [CEGP] stands with Contawe and other organizations in the light of justice. Although a series of red-tagging have already surfaced, it should be normalized as it is more terrorizing than the act of terrorism itself. With this, the Guild requests everyone to remain vigilant, but at the same time, people should never be afraid to voice out their dissents and criticisms. As always said by the Guild, this will always be reiterated, the Constitution will always be on our side.” CEGP said on Facebook.

Furthermore, the CEGP also lambasted the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict for its widespread red-tagging of youth and human rights group as it became a leeway for the public to perceive vocal critics of the government as armed rebels.

Meanwhile, Contawe has also spoken and defended his stand regarding the matter and took a similar stance with the CEGP.