Malaybalay cops' FB post linking ABS-CBN supporters to terrorism probed

Rod Bolivar, Zhander Cayabyab and Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 17 2020 03:45 PM | Updated as of Jul 17 2020 04:05 PM

Northern Mindanao police says sorry to network 

ABS-CBN employees and supporters hold a noise barrage around the ABS-CBN headquarters in Quezon City on July 15, 2020, 5 days after the House Committee on Legislative Franchise denied the network's license renewal application. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News/File 


MANILA — The Philippine National Police said Friday it is investigating an online post by one of its stations in Bukidnon province linking ABS-CBN supporters to terrorism, just days before a new law on extremism takes effect. 

The Malaybalay City Police Station shared on Facebook an art card with photos of several individuals holding placards with messages of support for ABS-CBN after lawmakers denied its franchise application. 

A block of text beside the photos reads: "Malalaman mong sila ay para sa terorismo, papatulan lahat ng isyu basta laban sa gobyerno.

(You'll know they are for terrorism, if they take advantage of all issues as long as these are against the government.) 

The PNP "immediately conducted an initial probe" on the issue, said its spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac. 

"The Malaybalay Police chief and those responsible in making such reported post have been asked to explain why no administrative sanctions shall be imposed upon them for making such post that drew negative reactions from the public," he said in a text message to ABS-CBN News. 

"The PNP imposes very strict guidelines in the proper use of social media," he added. 

PRO-10 APOLOGIZES 

Malaybalay police chief LtCol. Jerry Tambis said the "terrorist" label was not referring to ABS-CBN and its employees, but rather, to left-leaning groups that expressed support for the network.

"Ang intention ay hindi against sa network. Ang intention ay 'yung mga placards na ginagamit ng mga left-leaning groups against doon sa terorismo," said Tambis. 

(The intention was not against the network. The intention was against the placards used by left-leaning groups against terrorism.) 

The Facebook post has been deleted. 

The Northern Mindanao police, which has jurisdiction over Malaybalay, should "not have added injury to the feelings" of its employees, said its spokesperson LtCol. Mardy Hortillosa II. 

"We apologize to ABS-CBN... We understand how hard and stressful their situation is right now," he said in the local dialect. 

(Mangayo kami og despensa labi na gyud sa ABS-CBN kay nasayop kami nga dili dapat ni magdugang sa injury nga nadawat karon sa ABS-CBN nga mga empleyado. Kay nasayod kami unsa kalisod karon, unsa ka-stressful sa ilaha nga maghunahuna in the future kung asa na sila manginabuhian.) 
 

JOURNOS, ACTIVIST RAISE CONCERN 

The post linking ABS-CBN supporters to terrorism came just days before the new Anti-Terrorism Act takes effect on July 18, according to Malacañang. 

The legislation, which is being challenged by 9 petitions before the Supreme Court, allows terror suspects to be detained for up to 24 days without charge. Critics said the law also strips away old safeguards such as penalties for wrongful detention. 

Supporting ABS-CBN and press freedom should not be considered as terrorism, said National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) safety officer JB Deveza. 

"This is a long stretch of police imagination. If they see dissent or opposition to the government as a form of terrorism, then we should be afraid especially now that we have the Anti-Terror Law," he said in local dialect. 

(Murag long stretch na nga imagination kini siya sa mga pulis. Kung ingon ani iyang pag-trato diay, ilang pagtanaw sa any form of descent or opposition sa gobyerno, dapat gyud diay kita mangahadlok tungod kay labaw na-signed into law na ang anti-terror law.)

NUJP chair Nonoy Espina, who tweeted a screenshot of the online post, also raised concern over the incident. 

"Speaking out against the closure of ABS-CBN and defending press freedom is terrorism? Ilan pa kayang unit ng PNP ang meron nito?" he said. 

(How many more PNP units have a post like this?) 
 
Red-tagging "does not serve and protect civilians but instead endanger them and their families," 155 journalists and media workers from Mindanao said in a statement. 

"It would do well for Northern Mindanao police to review the 1987 Constitution. Practicing our right to free speech is neither an act of rebellion nor terrorism," they added. 

Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes Jr. said the post was "unethical and unprofessional." 

"Black propaganda 'yan at hindi dapat para sa isang government agency. Sinasayang nila ng taxes namin sa ganyang kabalbalan," he said. 

(That is black propaganda and improper for a government agencies. They are wasting our taxes with that stupidity.)