NUJP pushes back vs NTF-ELCAC's red-tagging of media

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
NUJP pushes back vs NTF-ELCAC's red-tagging of media
In this Oct. 27, 2020 photo, members of national women's alliance Gabriela stage a protest rally at the Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City denouncing red-tagging and to junk the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines pushed back at the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict’s red-tagging of several media organizations simply for reporting on a complaint filed against one of their officials.

The NUJP, in a statement on Monday, pointed out that the latest red-tagging claim of the NTF-ELCAC was based on the “flimsiest reasons.”

Although unidentified in the statement, NTF-ELCAC official Lorraine Badoy accused mainstream media of not reporting dismantled guerilla fronts, last week in a program by SMNI as posted on a social card on the task force's Facebook page.

When she was sued before the Office of the Ombudsman, she called out five media organizations who wanted to interview her “out of the blue.” Based on Badoy’s statements, news people asking to interview her in reaction to the filing is proof “that media is part of the network of the Communist Party of the Philippines.”

But the NUJP refuted Badoy’s claims and pointed out that mainstream media has police and military beat reports who cover the government’s anti-insurgency operations.

“But the very existence of the NTF-ELCAC is recognition that these operations are just part of the government’s strategy,” it added.

The journalists’ union stressed: “The effects of and reactions to another part of the strategy, which has so far involved accusing activists, journalists, rights workers, nuns, volunteer teachers community pantry organizers — and, just recently, the mayor of a regional hub in the northern Philippines — of communist links or support are also matters of public interest.”

The NUJP added that NTF-ELCAC’s “absurd accusation” is still dangerous as it echoes allegations that were used to justify the takeover and silencing of the press in 1972, during the start of Martial Law.

“The easiest way for the task force to stop media from reporting about red-tagging is to stop doing it and to recognize that the Constitution recognizes both the presumption of innocence and the freedom of the press,” the NUJP added.

On March 23,  26 activists, religious groups, teachers, and student leaders accused Badoy — a medical doctor by training but who now speaks for the NTF-ELCAC — of violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

This comes after Badoy baselessly accused Vice President Leni Robredo of entering into an alliance with the Communist Party of the Philippines, pointing to the endorsement she received from the progressive Makabayan bloc, which has long been accused by the government of being a communist front group.

Badoy has denied that her task force practices red-tagging, preferring to call its conflating activists with armed combatants as "truth-tagging."

The NTF-ELCAC has also been caught spreading false information on more than one occasion in order to justify its red-tagging. 

This is not the first time complaints have been filed against Badoy as similar petitions have already been lodged by groups like the IBON Foundation, human rights group Karapatan, and the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers. — with reports from Franco Luna

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As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: September 24, 2023 - 1:02pm

Dennis Denora, a Sun.Star reporter and publisher of the Trends and Times community paper, has been shot dead by unidentified killers, according to the Davao chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.

Denora was killed near the wet market of Panabo City in Davao Del Norte on Thursday afternoon, NUJP Davao says.

The Davao del Norte Press & Radio-TV Club says in a statement that is is angered and saddened by news of the killing.

"His death awakens the anger and pains of journalists who do their job and yet are being judged by the pistol," the group also says.

September 24, 2023 - 1:02pm

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines reports four student journalists of The Democrat, student publication of University of Nueva Caceres were intimidated and subjected to surveillance by members of the Philippine Army.

"The other soldiers took their photos without consent. Democrat editor-in-chief Aila Joy Esperida protested, and told the soldiers to delete the photos. She also asked for the identity of the soldier asking for their personal data. The soldier introduced himself as Sergeant Creo," NUJP says.

It adds that students were asked what they were doing at the plaza and claimed that they will be holidng a rally. NUJP says Creo went  to say "that activists are often recruited to the New People's Army."

"The following day, Esperida received a letter signed by their barangay captain summoning her and her parents for a dialogue with the Philippine Army on Sept. 24. On Sept. 23, The Democrat photojournalist John Harvee Cabal also received a similar letter from their barangay," NUJP reports.

July 16, 2023 - 10:55am

A Mexican journalist was shot to death in a store parking lot on Saturday in the southern tourist town of Acapulco, regional authorities said, in the country's second journalist killing in a week. 

Prosecutors said they have opened an investigation for homicide with a firearm in the killing of Nelson Matus, days after the body of fellow journalist Luis Martin Sanchez was found "with signs of violence" after he had been reported missing. — AFP

July 9, 2023 - 10:33am

A regional correspondent for leading Mexican newspaper La Jornada was found dead on Saturday, a day after he went missing in the western state of Nayarit, the daily said.

"A body found in the village of Huachines... in the municipality of Tepic was identified as Luis Martin Sanchez Iniguez, 59 years old, correspondent for La Jornada," the Mexico City newspaper said on its website.

The journalist's wife, Cecilia Lopez, told investigators that she had been unaware of his whereabouts since Wednesday night, when she was in another town visiting relatives, the newspaper reported, citing local authorities.

Sanchez Iniguez's body was found on Saturday morning in a rural area near Tepic, the capital of Nayarit. Some unconfirmed local media reports said he was found wrapped in plastic bags and had a message on his chest. 

Sanchez was at home Wednesday night and spoke to his wife on the phone. — AFP

July 4, 2023 - 9:05am

A respected South African investigative journalism organisation has won a legal battle against a powerful businessman in a case that tested the country's media freedom.

The amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism had earlier been barred from using documents acquired from a source in its reporting on controversial businessman Zunaid Moti -- who claimed they were stolen.

But High Court Judge Roland Sutherland on Monday set aside that order, describing it as "an abuse of the process of court". — AFP

June 25, 2023 - 5:49pm

The amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism draws its name from the Zulu word for dung beetle -- a diligent species that fulfils a crucial role.

The tiny South African non-profit specialises in delving into political corruption -- "digging dung and fertilizing democracy," its editor-in-chief, Sam Sole, said with a chuckle in a recent interview with AFP.

Sole, a lean and bearded 61-year-old, has had little opportunity for laughter of late.

His organisation has been running a lengthy investigation into a powerful businessman accused of unscrupulous business dealings, including with President Emmerson Mnangagwa of neighbouring Zimbabwe.

The probe has unleashed a legal and financial headache for the centre as it faces a full-throated challenge from Zunaid Moti, the tycoon in question.

The case reaches a key stage on Tuesday when the High Court will hear Moti's objections that the investigation is based on stolen documents which should be handed over. 

The outcome has huge importance for whistleblowers who until now have been largely shielded from identification by the law. — AFP

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