CHR calls out SMNI for red-tagging journalists

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
CHR calls out SMNI for red-tagging journalists
NTF-ELCAC spokesperson Lorraine Badoy (left) and Jeffrey “Ka Eric” Celiz (right)
Video grab from Facebook page of SMNI News

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights has once again called out the hosts of Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) for going on a red-tagging spree, this time targeting journalists affiliated with the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines.

The human rights body said that it is "gravely alarmed" by the new round of red-tagging by the hosts of an SMNI show, reiterating that the practice exposes innocent individuals to intimidation, violence and unnecessary state surveillance.

In a statement on Friday, CHR condemned the incident and warned against “sweeping political generalizations that undermine human rights, reinforce inequalities, and introduce hostile divisions in the Filipino society.”

On World Press Freedom Day, SMNI anchor Jeffrey Celiz falsely claimed that Philstar.com editor and NUJP Chairperson Jonathan de Santos was "active in the underground operations" of the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People's Army - National Democratic Front and 

Celiz also accused Philstar.com of being affiliated with the same communist groups and levied similar false claims against former Philippine Daily Inquirer correspondent and former NUJP Chairperson Nestor Burgos and Rappler.

RELATED: Fact check: NUJP, FOCAP are not linked with the CPP-NPA-NDF

Beyond calling out the SMNI anchor, the human rights body also highlighted the government's duty to protect Filipinos' right to free expression and to safeguard the press.

“CHR reminds the state of its obligation to protect these freedoms as a state party to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both asserting that all people have the right to freedom of expression, opinion, and information through any media,” CHR said.

“When red-tagging is used to suppress these freedoms, it becomes a tool to shrink civic space,” the human rights body added.

Right watchdog Human Rights Watch has also expressed concern about the incident, saying that many red-tagged individuals have become victims of extrajudicial executions.

In 2022, the CHR also called out SMNI anchors for red-tagging an advocate of LGBTQI rights during the same program.

SMNI, which is owned by alleged sex trafficker Apollo Quiboloy, is a member of the Kapisanan ng Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, which has the power to sanction its members over the contents of their broadcasts.

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