MANILA — Alternative media groups on Friday filed before the Office of the Ombudsman criminal and administrative complaints against the government's controversial anti-communist task force accused of endangering lives of activists by red tagging.
Complainants Altermidya, Alipato Media Center, Kodao Productions, and Pinoy Media Center impleaded officials of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) namely Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade (spokesperson), Allen Capuyan (executive director), and Lorraine Badoy (ex-officio member).
The complainants accused the 3 of associating them with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) "without sufficient basis."
They cited Parlade's statement on May 12, 2020 entitled "Reds free ride on ABS-CBN issue" wherein he allegedly called Altermidya, Bulatlat, and Kodao as "long-time cohorts of the CPP in the media, creations of the CPP, and stooges of CPP founding chairperson Prof. Jose Maria Sison."
The complainants also narrated how Capuyan presented organizational charts in a Senate hearing which listed Altermidya, Bulatlat, Kodao and Pinoy Weekly as part of the "national propaganda and cultural commission of the CPP."
Badoy, they said, accused Bulatlat and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines as "communist fronts and terrorist [organizations]."
The complainants want the respondents held accountable for violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for causing them undue injury, among others.
"Red tagging complainants brought a chilling effect on the press, as well as on discourse and debate, stifling the free expression of dissent. Respondents, thus, served as witting instruments of tyranny and repression," the complainants said.
The complainants also want the respondents to be held administratively liable for grave misconduct, serious dishonesty, oppression and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
"Needless to add, the said acts are contrary to law, good morals, good customs, public interest, and are a grievous departure from the democratic way of life and values."
The groups held a short protest in front of the Office of the Ombudsan after filing their complaints.
"Kapag na-red tag ibig sabihin non kino-consider ka nang enemy of the state... Malaking dagok ito sa operations namin bilang journalists, instead of doing our jobs of telling the stories, mas nagiging prone kami sa atake," Altermidya national coordinator Rhea Padilla said.
The alternative media groups said their complaint is the 6th filed against NTF-ELCAC officials over their red tagging.
Several rights groups and legal experts have urged the government to criminalize red tagging, saying the act creates a clear and present danger to those being linked to the communist movement.
Last Tuesday, the lone doctor of Guihulngan City's 33 villages and her husband were shot and killed by assailants on motorcycle. Dr. Mary Rose Sancelan was accused of being a local head of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA).
Meanwhile, Lady Ann Salem, editor of alternative news website Manila Today, was among the 7 arrested last December 10, Human Rights Day, over alleged illegal possession of firearms and explosives. Human rights groups claimed the charges are trumped up.