A Facebook user has falsely accused Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago of being a former member of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army, using the photo of a different person--a real guerilla leader--to mislead readers.
Neilmite Kane Smith juxtaposed the photos of Elago and Ka (Comrade) Katryn, the media liaison for the Melito Glor Command of the CPP-NPA, in her Nov. 25 post with the caption:
Sarah ELAGO NOONG NASA BUNDOK PUMAPATAY NG INOSENTENG TAO (Sarah Elago when she was in the mountains killing innocent people)
The official website of the National Democratic Front confirms Ka Katryn is part of the CPP-NPA. A reverse image search did not yield the same photo posted by Smith, in which Ka Katryn was being interviewed by news organizations, but led to similar photos of the guerilla leader taken at the 48th anniversary celebration of the CPP-NPA Southern Tagalog nearly four years ago.
A photo series of the event published Jan. 1, 2017 by Manila Today contains one of Ka Katryn from a different angle: She is seen accessing her laptop.
A different photo of Ka Katryn from yet another angle was published by The Manila Times in a 2019 article.
Another photo series of the CPP-NPA’s anniversary celebration published Jan. 2, 2017 by Pinoy Weekly, now accessible only through Wayback Machine, include an image of Ka Katryn, who can be identified through her nametag, standing beside NDF consultant Ernesto Lorenzo and Ka Diego, Melito Glor Command spokesperson.
The identities of Lorenzo and Ka Diego were established by checking other news reports.
The photos, taken by a “Boy Bagwis,” also include one that shows Ka Diego talking to the same news organizations seen interviewing Ka Katryn on the photo posted by Smith.
At the time Ka Katryn’s photos were taken, Elago was already a member of Congress.
This is not the first time Elago was misidentified as Ka Katryn. An Oct. 10 fact check by Vera Files found another photo of Ka Katryn that was used to link Elago to the CPP-NPA.
At the Nov. 24 Senate committee hearing probing the red-tagging of certain personalities and organizations, Elago denied accusations that she was ever part of the CPP-NPA. She said:
Hindi ako NPA. Hindi ako NPA recruiter. Hindi po bahagi o front ng CPP ang Kabataan Partylist. Hindi NPA recruiter ang Kabataan Partylist. Hindi rin ito nagrerecruit para maging NPA (I’m not in the NPA. I’m not a recruiter of the NPA. Kabataan Partylist is not the front nor a part of CPP. It is also not recruiting in order to be a part of the NPA).
As of writing, the post has garnered 210 reactions, 154 comments, and 157 shares. It has been shared by Philippine-based Facebook pages and groups such as Buhay Sundalo, 119th Infantry "Scrutinize" Regiment, 8th Scout Ranger Company, and SOLGEN Jose Calida SUPPORTERS.
Smith joined Facebook in August 2015 and has since garnered 5,000 friends and 762 followers. She mostly posts anti-communist materials and sentiments. (MCQ)
119th Infantry “Scrutinize” Regiment, 8th Scout Ranger Company. (2020, November 25). Sarah ELAGO NOONG NASA BUNDOK PUMAPATAY NG INOSENTENG TAO [Shared post]. Facebook. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/groups/600209843992648/
After storm, CPP's 48th anniversary pushes ahead in Southern Tagalog. (2017, January 06). Bulatlat. Retrieved from https://www.bulatlat.com/2016/12/29/storm-cpps-48th-anniversary-pushes-ahead-southern-tagalog/
Bagwis, B. (2017, January 2). PHOTOS | Show of revolutionary unity, Strength in Southern Tagalog. Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20190518051651/https://www.pinoyweekly.org/2017/01/photos-show-of-revolutionary-unity-strength-in-southern-tagalog/
Bordey, H. (2020, November 24). 2 Makabayan solons face Senate hearing on red-tagging, deny ties with CPP-NPA. Daily Tribune. Retrieved from https://tribune.net.ph/index.php/2020/11/24/2-makabayan-solons-face-senate-hearing-on-red-tagging-deny-ties-with-cpp-npa/
Buhay Sundalo [@bardelaz]. (2020, November 26). Sarah ELAGO NOONG NASA BUNDOK PUMAPATAY NG INOSENTENG TAO [Shared post]. Facebook. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=189758946084168&id=104801744579889
CPP holds peace rally, celebrates 48th anniversary in Quezon. (2017, January 07). Manila Today. Retrieved from https://manilatoday.net/cpp-celebrates-48th-anniversary-quezon/
Domingo, K. (2020, November 24). Makabayan officials deny links with CPP-NPA but won't condemn Reds. ABS CBN News. Retrieved from https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/11/24/20/makabayan-officials-deny-links-with-cpp-npa-but-wont-condemn-reds
Gonzales, C. (2020, November 24). Elago denies Kabataan Party-list group recruiting for NPA. Inquirer.net. Retrieved from https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1364213/elago-denies-kabataan-party-list-group-recruiting-for-npa
Manila Today. NPA Melito Glor Command celebrates CPP's 50th year. (2018, December 29). Retrieved from https://ndfp.org/npa-melito-glor-command-celebrates-cpps-50th-year/
Narra, R. (2019, January 14). Students forced to join NPA – police. Manila Times Retrieved from https://www.manilatimes.net/2019/01/15/news/top-stories/students-forced-to-join-npa-police/496629/
Rappler. (2020, November 24). Senate hearing on red-tagging [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtv2hxexqlg&t=3405s
Smith, N. (2020, December 25). Sarah ELAGO NOONG NASA BUNDOK PUMAPATAY NG INOSENTENG TAO [Facebook update]. Facebook. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/beth.lucas.98/posts/1286273145060101
SOLGEN Jose Calida SUPPORTERS. (2020, November 25). Sarah ELAGO NOONG NASA BUNDOK PUMAPATAY NG INOSENTENG TAO [Shared post]. Facebook. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/groups/673361900187235/permalink/808259206697503
VERA FILES FACT CHECK: This NPA guerilla is NOT Sarah Elago. (2020, October 10). Vera Files. Retrieved from https://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-npa-guerilla-not-sarah-elago