By ALYSSA MAE CLARIN
MANILA — Media organizations called on the Kapisanan ng mga Broadkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) to look into the recent red-tagging of National Union of Journalists of the Philippines’ (NUJP) chairperson, Jonathan de Santos, and its leadership.
“The rampant and unabated red-tagging on live television has to stop,” NUJP’s Philstar.com chapter said.
In an alert, the NUJP said that former undersecretary of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), Lorraine Badoy, and NTF-ELCAC spokesman, Jeffrey Celis, red-tagged De Santos and the entire NUJP leadership during their daily show “Laban Kasama ang Bayan.”
The show, broadcasted on SMNI – the broadcasting arm of Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, an FBI most wanted – had been used multiple times to red-tag veteran journalists and other press freedom advocates like Nobel Peace laureate Maria Ressa, Inday Espina Varona, Atom Araullo, and Vergel Santos.
During their show aired last May 5, the pair claimed that De Santos had been active in the communist rebellion’s “underground operations” in his younger years.
The NUJP asked KBP, which SMNI is a member of, and asked the organization to stop letting such lies to be broadcasted and exercise its disciplinary powers by sanctioning the company.
On top of that, Badoy even went as far as posting on her personal social media. In her post, she called De Santos “an urban operative” of communist rebels, adding that if De Santos wanted he could sue her for a ‘real crime’ instead of calling her out for red-tagging, which she claimed is being used against them for ‘telling the truth.’
Southeast-Asian press freedom groups also joined in condemning the red-tagging and said in a joint statement that the baseless accusations made against NUJP can bring dire consequences against those targeted.
“These attacks not only jeopardize their personal safety but also undermine the vital role of a free press in fostering transparency, accountability, democracy and legitimacy of media as the 4th estate,” the statement said.
“We call on the Philippine government to state clearly that the practice is not state policy, is unacceptable and violates freedom of association as well as other civil and political rights,” it added.
“The freedom of the press is a cornerstone of democracy, and we must collectively defend it,” it pointed out.
NUJP Philstar.com, which De Santos is a part of, had instantly called them out and said that the allegations are “absurd, hilarious, and straight from the bowels of hell,” and added that it was illogical to say that the outfit is a communist front for reporting on the deaths of late rebel leaders Wilma and Benito Tiamzon, and the alleged deportation of another communist leader, Eric Casilao.
“If we follow this twisted thought, every single media outlet that reported on these developments are also communist fronts, which is obviously the farthest from the truth,” the chapter said.
The chapter also cautions the public on the legitimate danger red-tagging brings to working journalists and how it paints a target mark on their backs, leaving them more vulnerable to more attacks. (RTS)