‘Red tag’ sparks row

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Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary Lorraine Marie Badoy

To prove it has no political leaning, a journalist organization should condemn the atrocities of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), said Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary Lorraine Marie Badoy as she denied an accusation that PCOO was “red-tagging” the group.

In a radio interview, Badoy asked the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) to issue a statement denouncing the atrocities committed by CPP-NPA to disprove its alleged sympathy for the communist rebel group.

“I just want to ask the chairman of the NUJP: Will you issue an official statement? Could you do that as a challenge — denouncing the activities, the atrocities of the CPP-NPA? As simple as that,” Badoy said.

Badoy added NUJP chairman Noynoy Espina himself posted contents on social media “patronizing and romanticizing” the CPP-NPA during its 50th founding anniversary.

“Maybe the chairman of the NUJP would like to explain to us, why during the 50th anniversary of an organization that has been consistent and relentless in its protracted war against the government, why would he put something like this on his page?” she asked.

True color
She said Espina’s Facebook page had photos of communist terrorists holding high-powered guns.

Badoy said since communist insurgency was identified as the primary hindrance to the country’s progress and development, the NUJP should say something about it.

“Internationally, they are responsible for all these horrible reports about the Philippines at a time when our country had turned a corner,” she said.

Badoy added the PCOO and its attached office, the Philippine News Agency (PNA), are only after “simple, plain and responsible journalism.”

She also slammed the NUJP for not recognizing the Duterte administration’s pro-people program, such as the free college education and the Universal Health Care Act.

NUJP wants censorship
The NUJP earlier had cried foul over an article published by the PNA over a group of former communist members who denied that their claims against NUJP being linked with the leftist movement is part of an orchestrated plan to silence the group.

The article, titled “Red link tag on NUJP not ‘orchestrated’: ex-rebels” and published online on 8 January, cited the said group, Kilusan at Alyansa ng mga Dating Rebelde (KADRE), which narrated that “hardcore elements” in the NUJP made sure to block the release of their stories and their “freedom to expose the truth.”

The report stated a group of former communist movement members denied their “revelations” against the NUJP being linked with the Left carried in several newspapers was part of an orchestrated or “well-planned” operation.

She also slammed the NUJP for not recognizing the Duterte administration’s pro-people program.

“We just want answered whether or not the NUJP is a legal front of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front,” KADRE said in a statement.

The group said “hardcore elements” in the NUJP have made sure the release of their stories and their “freedom to expose the truth” are blocked.

KADRE claims membership of more than 300 former CPP-NPA elements.

The CPP-NPA, in previous reports, had been allegedly involved in cases of extortion, mass murder and violation of indigenous people’s rights.

The US State Department and the European Union have both tagged the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization.

Fruits of paranoia
Malacañang had already denied allegations that PCOO was “red-baiting” or “red-tagging” groups.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the allegations may have been the result of paranoia.

“Nothing, there is no such thing. PCOO will not do that,” Panelo said.

Last December, the Philippines was removed from the list of the top five most dangerous countries for journalists in 2018, according to the annual report of media freedom organization Reporters Without Borders.

In October, the Philippines was named by the Committee to Protect Journalists as one of the countries with an “improved status” in its 2018 Global Impunity Index.

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