SPECIAL GUEST. Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong Jr. (3rd from left) attends an event of Kabataan party-list, a suspected recruiter of students into the communist movement, in this photo posted by the group on social media Saturday (March 19, 2022). The group thanked Magalong for banning so-called red-tagging posters in the city. (Photo courtesy of Kabataan Party-list Facebook)

MANILA – The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and a parents’ organization are alarmed over Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong’s order to take down posters and tarpaulins condemning acts of terrorism.

The League of Parents of the Philippines (LPP) also said the mayor and former police officer is being “friendly” with the Kabataan party-list, which is suspected of recruiting students to join communist terrorist groups.

In a statement issued Monday, the LPP said “it is implausible that the mayor does not know that by supporting the Kabataan party-list, he is answerable to the lives of thousands of children and youths who are being targeted by this perfidious group led by (outgoing Representative) Sarah Elago”.

“It is very alarming to know that Mayor Benjie Magalong, who was a former PNP (Philippine National Police) Deputy Chief for Operations, would be in cahoots with the Makabayan bloc which is, of course, the mouthpiece of the terrorist group CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front),” read the LPP statement posted on Facebook.

The NTF-ELCAC said in another statement Monday that Magalong’s “betrayal” made it “exceedingly clear to our people why this communist terrorist scourge has lasted as long as it has”.

“It’s not just because of the tenacious deceit of the terrorist CPP-NPA-NDF but also because of politicians like Mayor Magalong who participate in the deceit and who would put our children in harm’s way and who think nothing of continuing the grief, the bloodbath, and the destruction of our country for their own selfish political gains,” the statement read.

Magalong’s recent directive to forbid the posting of so-called red-tagging posters was in direct violation of President Rodrigo Duterte’s orders, the NTF-ELCAC said.

“And so are his orders for them to take down these tarpaulins that educate our children about these deceitful party-list that asks for our trust in the coming elections while at the same time lying to us about who they truly are,” said Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy, NTF-ELCAC spokesperson for sectoral concerns.

The Philippine News Agency tried to reach out to Magalong but his staff replied via text message that the mayor has no comment yet on the matter.

Magalong’s claims that he issued the order because he cares for children run counter to his directive because it will lend “his powerful protection to the terrorist CPP-NPA-NDF front, Kabataan party-list, the top recruiter of our children into the criminal NPA,” the NTF-ELCAC said.

LPP spokesperson Arlene Escalante said Magalong should instead help in stopping the recruitment and brainwashing of students by CPP-NPA-NDF front organizations that include the Kabataan party-list.

From mere activists, Escalante said students eventually take up arms against the government.

“Why be friendlier with them than those who fight for the truth? Why take down posters that condemn acts of terrorism in his city?” the LPP asked.

A Twitter post of the Kabataan party-list on Saturday showed Magalong at its gathering and posing for photos with Elago.

The LPP hopes that Magalong will change his mind “to redeem his name and to save many more lives by condemning any form of alliance with the terrorists”.

The NTF-ELCAC said if there were more Dutertes than Magalongs, the fight to end the insurgency should have ended a long time ago.

“Our President’s time with us is fast running out but he has taught us so much. One of these is what the face of a true public servant looks like. Let us not forget its granite features: incorruptibility, great courage, great love for country. In these coming elections, we ask our countrymen to elect into office these leaders who will lead us out of the morass of terrorism and into the light of a new day,” the NTF-ELCAC said.

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

The Anti-Terrorism Council also formally designated the NDF as a terrorist organization on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA that was created in April 1973. (PNA)