In the past months, the red-tagging of journalists and press freedom advocates have intensified, in an apparent attempt to suppress those who dare to ask questions that needed to be asked and write reports that the public needs to know. As Bulatlat turns 20, we invited Nonoy Espina, chairperson of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, to tell us how red-tagging affects us in our crucial role in truth-telling and holding the powerful to account.
By NONOY ESPINA
National Union of Journalists of the Philippines
The red-tagging of news organizations and journalists has only one purpose: to silence democratic discourse. Of course, the red-tagging of the alternative media and of organizations like the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) began way before the Duterte administration. Remember the “Knowing the Enemy” Powerpoint during the time of Arroyo?
But state security forces appear to have been given free rein by this government to stifle criticism and dissent, two things Duterte openly abhors, and so they have stepped up their campaign of suppression and repression.
This is why we have community and alternative journalists rounded up in raids against supposed communist rebels, why the Senate allows alternative media organizations to be openly red-tagged even without evidence in its hearings, and why, apparently believing there are no longer limits to what they can do and possessed with a bloated sense of the power they wield, the likes of Antonio Parlade Jr. and Lorraine Badoy have expanded their targets to include the mainstream media.
But the Philippine media are not called “independent” for nothing. We come from a long tradition of journalists and news organizations who have fiercely resisted any attempts to silence them or force them into conformity. While the dictator Ferdinand Marcos did shut down media en masse, it was not long before the mosquito press, the original alternative media, emerged and pierced the darkness of tyranny with the light of truth.
It is a tradition the alternative media carry on to this day. I consider it a matter of pride to have written for one of the best, Bulatlat, and to call journalists in the alternative media my colleagues.