AlterMidya to pursue legal action against red-taggers

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
AlterMidya to pursue legal action against red-taggers
AlterMidya staffers during their third national congress.
AlterMidya / Release

MANILA, Philippines — Alternative media network AlterMidya said it will pursue legal action against those who have been red-tagging them after the executive director of the government’s anti-communist task force accused them, without providing proof, of being part of the propaganda machinery of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

AlterMidya said in a statement released late Tuesday night that they will “exhaust all means to fight back” against the “malicious smear campaign on [their] members.”

Showing only a presentation to a Senate hearing on red-tagging, National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict executive director Allen Capuyan alleged that AlterMidya and its member organizations are part of the CPP’s National Propaganda Bureau under its institutional wing.

Capuyan said, again without providing much proof, that there is a “wave of connection” in the release of supposed propaganda against the government by these alleged members of the CPP’s propaganda arm.

The retired colonel listed several media organizations under AlterMidya as part of the alleged communist propaganda machinery, but the alternative media network pointed out that this was just merely copied from the publicly-available list of their members and placed under an “incredible” heading.

“We can clearly see through these tactics of smearing and intimidating truth-tellers and critics into silence, especially in the middle of a growing discontent among the public,” AlterMidya said.

‘Vital role’

This is not the first time that AlterMidya and its members have been red-tagged, or accused of being part of the communist rebellion, by government officials.

Baguio City police, for one, tagged Northern Dispatch managing editor Sherwin De Vera as a personality of a communist front organization. AlterMidya host Inday Espina-Varona has also been accused of being part of a communist front.

In Senate hearings, the anti-communist task force has also tagged alternative journalist Deo Montesclaros as a member of the CPP and its armed wing, the New People’s Army.

Aside from red-tagging, AlterMidya said that their members have been subjected to death threats, cyberattacks, harassment, physical harassment, physical assault, detention and even attempted murder.

But this has not stopped it from continuing on with their work.

“Its member outfits have a consistent record of covering underreported issues in communities — some for more than two decades, while other community-based media outfits in provinces join and continually expand the network,” it said.

It added, “Journalists from the alternative media relentlessly report on the situation in various communities across the country: on environment issues, corruption, human rights abuses, on the situation of farmers and workers, among others.”

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, in a statement in solidarity with AlterMidya, recognized the network’s “vital role in serving the people's right to know through reportage and analysis that provide fresh perspectives to often under-reported social issues.”

The union said the rampant red-tagging directed at alternative media outlets is no different than the shutdown of ABS-CBN and the continued attacks on Rappler, adding that this is proof that the government and security forces are bent on “silencing contrary views and voices.”

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