Former communications undersecretary Lorrraine Badoy has falsely branded the online news site Philstar.com as a “propaganda machine” of the Communist Party of the Philippines, National People’s Army and National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) and its news editor an "urban operative."
One of her reasons, that Philstar.com published articles on the death of CPP leaders Wilma and Benito Tiamzon and the arrest of alleged CPP leader Eric Casilao, thus making it a communist movement’s mouthpiece, is “illogical,” the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) chapter at Philstar.com said.
In a statement on May 7, the NUJP chapter said:
If we follow this twisted thought, every single media outlet that reported on these developments – including ABS-CBN News, CNN Philippines, GMA News Online, Rappler and even the state-run Philippines News Agency – are also communist fronts, which is obviously the farthest from truth.
Badoy’s other reason was that Philstar.com’s news editor Jonathan de Santos is NUJP’s head. De Santos said in an interview with FactRakers on May 6 he is neither a member of the CPP-NPA-NDF nor involved in underground operations during his youth.
Philstar.com is an online news outfit owned by Philstar Global Corp, which is part of the STAR Group of Publications. The news outfit is not included in any official list of communist organizations by the NDF.
Badoy, a former spokesperson of the government’s anti-communist task force, made the unfounded charge against Philstar.com, NUJP and De Santos in in her Laban Kasama ang Bayan program on Sonshine Media Network International’s (SMNI) YouTube channel on May 3, World Press Freedom Day:
Ayun pala Eric ‘no kung bakit pala ang Philstar… parang propaganda machine ng CPP-NPA-NDF. Recently, ‘yung mga kwento nila – ‘yung mga articles nila about Wilma and Benito Tiamzon and Casilao, all of that ‘no, is because pala ‘yung online editor nila ay si Jonathan de Santos na isang head ng NUJP (That’s why, Eric, Philstar is like the propaganda machine of the CPP-NPA-NDF. Their recent stories – their articles about Wilma and Benito Tiamzon and Casilao – were published because their online editor is Jonathan de Santos who is one of the leaders of NUJP).
Badoy’s co-host Jeffrey Celiz, who claims to be a former communist rebel, also falsely said De Santos and his organization NUJP are fronts of communist groups. He said at the 37:00 and 38:30 marks:
Itong is Jonathan de Santos naging aktibo po sa underground operations ng CPP-NPA-NDF dito noong kabataan. … At ang NUJP ay plataporma na binuo ng CPP-NPA-NDF para mag-infiltrate sa hanay ng mga media in the guise of press freedom promotion and in the guise of independent journalism (This Jonathan de Santos was active in the underground operations of the CPP-NPA-NDF here during his youth. … And NUJP is a platform that the CPP-NPA-NDF made to infiltrate those in the media in the guise of press freedom promotion and in the guise of independent journalism).
And also itong is Jonathan ay aktibo din ito sa network ng CPP-NPA-NDF, na ngayon online editor ng Philstar… (And Jonathan is also active in the network of the CPP-NPA-NDF, who is now the online editor of Philstar).
Badoy again tagged De Santos as an “urban operative” of the CPP-NPA-NDF in her Facebook post and SMNI program on May 8 in response to NUJP-Philstar’s statement.
De Santos told FactRakers he was never involved in any communist operations.
He said he was a campus journalist and a student who joined protest actions demanding the ouster of former president Joseph “Erap” Estrada over allegations of his ill-gotten wealth. These activities are protected by the 1987 Constitution’s Bill of Rights and are therefore not considered as underground communist operations, he added.
De Santos told Factrakers:
It's not true. I was not active in "underground operations of the CPP-NPA-NDF" in my youth – nor am I now. I was briefly in the Features section of the UPLB Perspective and joined the protests against Erap Estrada up to Edsa Dos. Being in the campus paper isn't illegal or underground, and Edsa Dos was a multisectoral phenomenon – a lot of our politicians now were there as well – and not underground at all.
De Santos also said NUJP’s activities are focused on “documentation, physical and legal safety training, (and) labor and economic rights of media workers.” In organizing their programs, NUJP partners with Internews, Unesco, and USAID, among others, he said.
De Santos added:
These programs are done with the help of international partners who have observers as the activities are done. There is nothing inherently illegal, or even controversial about any of these activities.
Badoy and Celiz, who have worked for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), have repeatedly red-tagged journalists and individuals, organizations from the political opposition. The claims have been debunked, including by Philstar.com.
Despite the Philippines climbing to 132nd in the World Press Freedom Index 2023 report by Reporters Without Borders, NUJP has recorded 31 cases of red-tagging journalists under the Marcos Jr. administration as of April 30.
The May 3 SMNI broadcast has garnered 18,088 views on YouTube while the May 8 broadcast already has 6,372 views on the same platform. Badoy’s Facebook post has generated over 2,700 reactions, 276 comments and 39 shares. (DF)