MISAMIS Oriental Governor Yevgeny Emano has expressed concern over the recent incidents of red-tagging of journalists in Cagayan de Oro City.

In a statement issued on Thursday, September 5, Emano believed that red-tagging is an "unfair practice" and does not only affects the freedom of those who have been tagged but "may have serious implications on the security and movement of individuals and groups involved."

"Before a person or organization is identified as a supporter of the underground movement, there should be uncontroverted proof of such accusation," Emano said.

According to the provincial governor, a person or group is presumed innocent unless adequately proven and if indeed they have affiliations with the Communist rebels, "it should be proven in fair and competent courts."

Emano added that people who advocates for equal rights, albeit passionately and strongly, and only wish for the government to hear their sentiments should not be immediately accused as supporters of the communist movement.

"It is wrong to maliciously label them as terrorists only because of their advocacies in various fields of human rights work," Emano said.

"As an unwanted result, individuals and organizations who have been red-tagged are vulnerable to various forms of harassment including death threats and violence," he added.

Several people including rights lawyers, church workers and journalists have been red-tagged and labeled as supporters of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA).

And recently, two Cagayan de Oro-based media practitioners Cong Corrales and Froilan Gallardo were accused of being sympathizers or members of the said rebel groups.

In the latest anonymous red-tagging material - a flyer - received from a courier service, it stated that Corrales was given a P1-million bounty for his death. It also contained a false claim that the said journalist is facing rape with murder case involving a child.

The courier packet that contained the flyer identified the sender as Danilo Tirso Mantangan of Sitio Camansi, Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental.

Gallardo, on the other hand, was included in the list of rights lawyers and church workers who were also red-tagged several times.

The 4th Infantry Brigade clarified that the military is not involved in these red-tagging incidents and assured that they will provide security assistance to the threatened media practitioners.

International rights group, on the other hand, also expressed deep concern over the tagged journalists and human rights defenders and urged the authorities to "seriously investigate" all threats against them.