Amid red-tagging, Robredo supporters in Baguio-Benguet remain undeterred

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By SHERWIN DE VERA
www.nordis.net

BAGUIO CITY — Kakampinks in Baguio City and Benguet province remain undeterred despite the spate of red-tagging and destruction posters in the city and the capital town, La Trinidad.

Lawyer and One Baguio Benguet-Robredo People’s Council (OBB-RPC) geographical coordinator Katrina Balajadia-Liggayu said that since the start of the campaign period, they have been receiving reports of Leni-Kiko slate tarpaulins being defaced and destroyed.

This died down for a while … and possibly it has something to do with the fact that there is a people’s rally that is going to happen very soon and the objective is to strike fear or to make supporters rethink that particular rally,” she said in mix Filipino and English.

“If you look at it is highly threatening. Almost all of the supporters are red-tagged,” the lawyer added.

Balajadia-Liggayu said that organizers and volunteers remain undeterred by the incidents, noting that they trust the local governments will protect their citizens. “We know that in Baguio and Benguet we are safe,” she added.

Groups supporting the presidential run of vice president Robredo and her slate have scheduled Takder Kordi (Stand Up Kordi): Cordillera People’s Rally on April 28. They also lined build-up activities leading to the grand event.

TAGGED. Since last week, an organized defacing and red-tagging operation targeting the Leni-Kiko and 1Sambayan slates posters swept across Baguio City and Benguet province. (Miah Jebulan)

Defaced and tagged

The latest red-tagging incident and destruction of posters happened at early dawn today, April 21. The volunteers said men wearing masks on board a red Tamaraw FX with no plate number defaced the tarpaulins of Team Leni-Kiko at the campaign headquarters in La Trinidad.

They sprayed the letters “NPA” using white paint on the materials. The volunteers received similar incidents all over the town.

On April 19, artist and 1Sambayan campaigner Miah Jebulan noticed that Leni-Kiko tarpaulins in front of her house at Lopez Jaena street were spray-painted with the letters “NPA”.

“Last week, we also saw posters red-tagging Makabayan party-list members while attending a people’s caucus inside Pinsao Pilot covered court. We took it down,” she said.

Jeannete Ribaya-Cawiding of 1Sambayan Baguio-Benguet said members reported similar incidents in the different parts of Baguio. Aside from the Leni-Kiko tarps, posters of party-lists belonging to Makabayan bloc and senatorial bets Elmer Labog and Neri Colmenares were also vandalized.

According to her, despite the verbal order of Mayor Benjamin Magalong prohibiting red-tagging of individuals and groups in the city, reports of red-tagging against the opposition continue to pile up.

In an earlier statement, OBB-RPC called the acts “cowardice.” While not new, the group said the frequency of documented incidents “remains alarming.”

“We will not back down. Destroy one, we will put up another, and another, and another. These may be merely tarpaulins, but are symbols of freedoms that we seek to defend,” the statement said.

Balajadia-Liggayu said they already forwarded the evidence they collected to the proper authorities to investigate the incidents and determine those responsible.

Pink surge

Despite the incidents, Balajadia-Liggayu and Ribaya-Cawiding said campaigners and supporters of Robredo and the candidates aligned with her are determined to push forward with the campaign.

“We are surging and gaining ground. We are carrying on, campaigning for our slate and to provide education on people’s issues,” Cawiding said.

Since October last year, different groups supporting the Leni-Kiko tandem have sprouted in the area, holding separate events and joint activities.

Balajadia-Liggayu said these initiatives have attracted many individuals to come out and volunteer for the campaign.

She recalled that back in October, there were only a few volunteers. However, when Robredo visited Baguio in December and Senator Francis Pangilinan in February this year, there was a noticeable increase in the number of volunteers, and supports started pouring in.

“The number of volunteers is an indication that more people are coming out, not just our activities … but also other supports including logistics, and more are joining because they really believe in the vice president, Senator Kiko Pangilinan, and the senatorial best,” Balajadia-Liggayu added.

LIGHT UP. Pink lights filled one of Baguio’s iconic place as supporters of Leni-Kiko on board boats poured into the Burnham Lake on Wednesday, singing Robredo’s campaign jingles and shouting “awan ti Solid North” (there is no solid north). (Sherwin De Vera)

Pinkify Burnham

In their latest campaign event, supporters of vice president and presidential bet Leni Robredo lit the famous Burnham Lake pink just after sunset. Sixty boats carrying both young and old rowed and merged at the center of the lake, pink lights in hand, and sang Robredo campaign songs. Around 200 individuals participated in the activity.

Artist and director Karlo Altomonte said the affair is part of the Saranggola ng Pag-asa (Kite of Hope), a nationwide initiative of Katipunan sa Kultura at Kasaysayan led by National Artists Virgilio Almario, Benedicto Cabrera, Ryan Cayabyab, Alice Reyes among others. In Baguio and Benguet, the series of series of activities for the project will culminate on April 23.

“We will weave these (activities) into a video that will highlight the four elements of nature – Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water. The poetry of Frank [Cimatu] accompanied by a nose flute represents Wind. The bonfire activity at the Carantes Forest [on April 17] signified Fire,” he explained.

According to him, the Earth activity will be their meeting and sustainable farming workshop on April 22 with vegetable planters in the towns of Atok and Tublay. #

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