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Claim that blocked alternative news sites are NPA recruiters lacks basis

Former Communications Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy has claimed without proof that Bulatlat and other online news sites blocked by the National Telecommunications Commission are recruiters of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

In a broadcast on June 27 on Sonshine Media Network Inc.’s (SMNI) YouTube channel, Badoy, who was then communications undersecretary, said at the 6:34 mark:

Itong pinaggagawa ng Bulatlat ay very blatant na nagrerecruit at nanghihikayat na ang kaisa-isang solusyon dito ay armed struggle [na] tumangan ng baril ang mga anak natin at ano, I'm a writer, I know how powerful words are.
Mga taga UP, mga taga PUP na sumali at naging NPA, ang sinasabi nila, imagine, I didn't even know this[…] ang tumulak sa kanila na tumangan ng baril ay kapag nakakabasa sila ng mga pinagsusulat ng katulad nito ng mga Bulatlat, Kodao, mga pinagsasabi ni Raoul Manuel na diba na ito na talagang ‘wala ka nang choice kundi tumangan ng baril.’
(What Bulatlat is doing is very blatant recruiting and encouraging that the only solution is armed struggle, [that] our children must hold guns and I’m a writer, I know how powerful words are.
Students from UP [University of the Philippines] and from PUP [Polytechnic University of the Philippines] who joined the NPA [New People’s Army], imagine, I didn't even know this, Eric and Franco, I didn't even know this, they say that the what pushed them to hold guns was reading the works of Bulatlat, Kodao, and hearing the words of Raoul Manuel who say that ‘you really have no choice but to hold a gun.’)

Badoy did not substantiate her claim or give specifics other than saying reading Bulatlat and watching Kodao Productions, an alternative multimedia production outfit that produces video documentaries on social issues in the Philippines such as environmental destruction, human rights and other civil liberties, supposedly made students take up arms.

Bulatlat and Pinoy Weekly were among the 28 websites blocked on June 23 by NTC upon the request of then National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. who said they were affiliated with or supporting “terrorist groups,” referring to the CPP and the NPA.

CPP has said only seven of the websites are affiliated with it, the rest being websites of local cause-oriented groups or alternative news sites.

Bulatlat defended its work and denounced Esperon in a statement:

Truth-telling should not be labeled as terrorism. Providing space to political dissenters, including communists, is part of the job. By tagging this as "inciting to terrorism," Hermogenes Esperon Jr. sets the stage for heightened media repression.

It also assailed NTC’s decision in another statement, saying it was “downright unacceptable as it is based on Esperon's mere hearsay.”

“Bulatlat, the longest-running and award-winning online media outfit and the authority in human rights reporting in the Philippines, condemns this brazen violation of our right to publish, and of the public’s right to free press and free expression,” the statement read.

Esperon has a history of red-tagging progressives and activists. In May 2021, he red-tagged progressive groups in open court of the anti-terror law oral arguments.

Complaints, meanwhile, have been filed against Badoy for red-tagging individuals and groups, including by Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, community pantry organizer Patreng Non, Ibon Foundation and Kabataan party-list’s Sarah Elago.

The YouTube stream has garnered about 23,100 views, 965 likes and 36 comments as of writing. It was also streamed via SMNI’s Facebook page where it garnered 10,000 views and analysis from social media tool CrowdTangle showed that it received a total of 778 interactions.

The video clip was also shared by numerous accounts across social media including YouTube account Laban Kasama ang Bayan which received 6,141 views, 494 likes and 55 comments. It was also shared by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict and Badoy on Facebook. (GD)


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