Originally published on the CMFR website on 8 January 2019.
CMFR/PHILIPPINES — Three Manila-based tabloids published similar banner stories on 7 January 2019 linking the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the New People’s Army (NPA), and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
The NUJP said it was an orchestrated government attack through unscrupulous elements in the media intended to silence journalists.
Local tabloids Police Files Tonite, Bagong Bomba and Saksi Mata ng Katotohanan used the same headline, “NUJP Pinamumunuan ng CPP-NPA-NDF” (NUJP headed by CPP-NPA-NDF ), in their “reports.” All three said their source was a certain “Ka Ernesto” who claimed to be a former member of the NUJP and who said the organization has links with CPP founder Jose Maria Sison.
NUJP said it was the second time in a few weeks that they have been linked to the “rebels.” On 26 December 2018, the 50th founding anniversary of the CPP, a certain Mario Ludades, who claimed to be a founder and former member of the CPP, accused the Union of being a “legal front of the communist movement.” The Union said it was part of an “orchestrated effort” to intimidate and silence them.
In a statement published January 7, NUJP denounced the CPP-NPA-NDFP tag, declaring that “It is hilarious that they keep repeating these charges… the NUJP’s membership represents a broad spectrum of creeds and political beliefs bound by a common dedication to defending and expanding the bounds of freedom of the press and of expression.”
“It is unfortunate that there exist within the profession unscrupulous scum who allow themselves to be used by these cowardly enemies of press freedom even if it endangers colleagues. But we will let them be. Their venality shames them enough.” (Read NUJP’s full statement here: “NUJP denounces ‘CPP-NPA-NDF’ tag“)
In the context of the harassments and continued killing of journalists (165 since 1986, 13 of which occurred in the past two years), and Duterte’s frequent rants against journalists and media organizations, linking journalists to the CPP, NPA and NDFP could encourage further attacks.
President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly vowed to “crush” the NPA, and has echoed military claims that a number of party list and non-government organizations (NGOs) are in league with the CPP. This has encouraged the tagging of, and even attacks against a number of organizations such as teachers’, journalists’, human rights and Lumad groups critical of the regime. Other media organizations have also been harassed by government agencies, among them the online news site Rappler.
On 26 December 2018, the websites of different alternative media organizations were also taken down. Some plainclothes men were also seen in the vicinity of the office of the video group Kodao Productions in early December. This was followed by the take-down of the online sites of other media groups that have been tagged by state agents as legal “fronts” of the revolutionary movement.