“However silly the term ‘operatibang internet operator’ sounds, the attempt to link Ms. Olea to the CPP-NPA-NDF for her work in Bulatlat and in NUJP shows how hollow the claim made by Justice Secretary Crispin Remulla before the UN Human Rights Council that red-tagging is simple criticism that is ‘part of a democracy.'”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
(UPDATED: Oct. 14, 2022, 9:36 a.m.) MANILA – National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP) strongly denounced the recent attacks against one of its officers by rabid red-tagger Lorraine Badoy together with Jeffery Celiz and others in a program aired at Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) on Oct. 12.
In a show entitled “Laban Kasama ang Bayan,” NUJP secretary general and Bulatlat managing editor Ronalyn Olea was tagged as an “operatibong internet operator” for the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front.
The group said that this is not the first time that Badoy and others linked personalities, groups and members of the media to revolutionary groups.
In fact, they added, the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP), Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Movement Against Disinformation (MAD) and Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa have all been accused of rebel links without basis.
“However silly the term ‘operatibang internet operator’ sounds, the attempt to link Ms. Olea to the CPP-NPA-NDF for her work in Bulatlat and in NUJP shows how hollow the claim made by Justice Secretary Crispin Remulla before the UN Human Rights Council that red-tagging is simple criticism that is ‘part of a democracy’,” the group said in a statement.
They added that the “The mischaracterization as well as the effects of that mischaracterization — in the case of Bulatlat and PinoyWeekly, of being blocked without even an opportunity to address the accusations by the National Security Council — show that red-tagging has actual effects and is part of government policy.”
Alipato Media Center Inc., publisher of Bulatlat, of which Olea represented, questioned the blocking of its website in the court. On Oct. 10, Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 306 denied motions for reconsideration filed by the National Telecommunications Communication and retired Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr. against the temporary unblocking of bulatlat.com. This, after the court granted the preliminary injunction plea filed by Bulatlat against the blocking order of the NTC in August.
“In the face of the baseless accusations and desperate vilification, we stand with Ms. Olea and all others red-tagged by the government and by its mouthpieces,” the group said.
They added that in the light of the killing of commentator Percy Lapid and online threats against journalists Ed Lingao and Lourd de Veyra, they are “not taking red-tagging of journalists lightly and will hold authorities responsible should any harm come to fellow journalists.”
Nearly two decades of practicing journalism
Bulatlat expressed its alarm over the red-tagging of Olea.
“Her being red-tagged happened at a time when there are continuing attacks against journalists in the Philippines,” the online news website said in a statement.
It added that Olea has been a part of Bulatlat during its early days as contributor to becoming its managing editor today.
“She is a champion of human rights reporting, media workers’ welfare and journalists’ safety,” they added.
Olea won awards for her stories on human rights. In 2013, Olea’s story entitled, Killings unabated under Aquino, won third place in the Red Cross Award for Humanitarian Reporting. She was also among the finalists in the Save the Children Media Awards: Uncovering Child Hunger and Malnutrition in 2015 and the Chit Estella Journalism Awards in 2012.
Olea earned her degree of journalism at the Lyceum of the Philippines University. She finished her master’s degree in journalism at the Ateneo De Manila University under Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Media Programme.
Olea was the national president of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines from 2002 to 2004.
“In her fight for press freedom, Len is highly visible in the trial courts, in various fora and in the parliament of the streets. She fought those who dare to stifle press freedom and to curtail the people’s right to know. She stands in solidarity with fellow journalists and media workers under attack,” Bulatlat said.
Violation of legislative franchise
Meanwhile, the Movement Against Disinformation (MAD) asserts that the red-tagging of Badoy and others through SMNI is a violation of the 2007 Broadcast Code of the Philippines of the Kapasinan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) and violation of RA 11422, an act granting legislative franchise to SMNI’s corporate vehicle Swara Sug Media Corporation.
The group cited Badoy and Celiz’s attacks against Ressa after the Court of Appeals denied its motion for reconsideration in cyber libel conviction against her and former Rappler researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr., in the same program.
This time, Ressa was tagged as an operator for disinformation, misinformation, deception and giving a platform to the CPP-NPA.
Through these attacks, MAD said that SMNI and the presenters of the Laban Kasama ang Bayan show are using, misusing and abusing its legislative franchise.
“Mass media such as SMNI are highly regulated and are imbued with the public interest because they disseminate information and ideas to the public which ‘set the standards, ideals and aims of the masses,” the group said in a statement.
They added that Section 4 of RA 11422 states, “The grantee shall provide… at all times sound and balanced programming… and not use its stations or facilities for the broadcasting of obscene or indecent language, speech, act or scene; or for the dissemination of deliberately false information or willful misrepresentation, to the detriment of the public interest…”
The group said the influence of mass media could not be left unchecked and unregulated.
“Hence, legal and ethical standards are imposed to curb and control potential misuse and abuse,” the group said.
The group added that the SMNI and its presenters are not above the law in the exercise of their right to deliver information to the public. “They are legally, ethically and morally prohibited from red-tagging and putting in harm’s way the subjects of their news,” they added.
MAD also urged the KBP and all relevant government agencies to review and investigate the red-tagging involving SMNI and Badoy et al.
“It is time that the regulatory powers of the regulators be felt in full force to rein in and hold to account contumacious red-taggers and purveyors of disinformation and misinformation in the Philippines,” they added. (RTS)