BAGUIO CITY (March 12, 2021) – A move to legally block a
“tokhang-type” government campaign to rid the region of the communist movement suffered defeat this week after the petition for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) was junked by the Baguio City Regional Trial Court branch 6, citing the plea was premature because no such counter-insrugency drive has started.
Judge Michael Francisco “has the impression,” he said, that the plan by regional line agencies in the Cordillera for a “tokhang-type” campaign contained in Regional Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee (RLECC) resolution number 4, series of 2021, “merely contains a policy recommendation as to how the communist insurgency might be addressed as is still subject to adoption, modification, or outright rejection by the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) as well as the Governors, and the Mayors in the Cordillera Region”.
United Church of Christ of the Philippines Bishop Emeritus Reuel Marigza in his petition for TRO feared “(the RLECC) resolution suppress the rights of citizens to air their grievances in a lawful manner.”
In assailing the same resolution, the protestant bishop admitted that he lodged the petition “as an act of self-preservation because he himself fears for his life and his safety, as well as that of the members of his family and his flock who maybe caught in the crossfire of sorts.”
Bishop Marigza also admitted that he too was earlier tagged as left-leaning because of taking views that stood for human rights and justice.
Cordillera police director Brig. Gen. RWin Pagkalinawan, co-chairman of the RLECC however parried the fears of some sectors against the tact.
He insists it is not a blood thirsty campaign, but the same strategy of visiting or actually knocking on homes of left-leaning personalities (including the media and government personnel) around the villages and making a plea to shun support for the CPP-NPA-NDF.
The RLECC resolution had been signed by 45 regional executives except NCIP-CAR regional director Marlon Bosantog, formerly the national spokesperson of the NTF-ELCAC.
CHR-Cordillera director Romel Daguimol though had withdrawn his signature citing “activism is not a crime”.
Pagkalinawan assured that policemen are only one of the participants in the campaign citing the resolution specifies that “teams composed of church leaders and members, NGO, barangay officials and local police will be going around in villages for the “Tokhang”.”
Oplan Tokhang will be employed to convince left-leaning personalities to return to the folds of the government and dissuade them from further supporting the Marxist-Maoist-inspired rebellion and its known front organizations, Pagkalinawan stressed further citing the RLECC Resolution.
Judge Francisco was likewise convinced that Bishop Marigza’s fears are, “at best premature as there is no concrete threat of injury yet to (him)”.
Thus, he continued, “without any completed action
on the part of the RPOC, as well as the Governors and the Mayors in the Cordillera Region, in adopting the recommendation of the RLECC-CAR to conduct “Oplan Tokhang” on left-leaning personalities under (the said Resolution), thereby resulting in a concrete threat of injury to the petitioner, the Court is constrained to deny petitioner’s applicant for the issuance of a 2-day TRO on the ground of prematurity.”
Francisco also decided there is no urgent need for a Writ for Preliminary Injunction supposedly to prevent irreparable injury to (Marigza), citing, “threat of injury to the petitioner (is) largely uncertain and contingent upon the adoption of the (Resolution) by the RPOC and the Governoers and Mayors in the Cordillera Region.”
Artemio A. Dumlao