North Luzon Monitor

North Luzon

Journo’s launch redtagging study in Baguio

Journalists are fighting back against red tagging and harassment.

The National Union of Journalist of the Philippines led the launch of a study on red tagging study, May 18 at the IP Center, Burnham Park.

NUJP Secretary General, Len Olea said there were 27 journalists interviewed and asked about the effect of red tagging per journalist, per newsroom and the personal impact to their family and work.”

“No Tag: Press Freedom for Pluralism”, a study funded by UNESCO under the International Programme for the Development of Communication chronicles stories of vilified journalists across the Philippines and their struggle with being branded as terrorists.

The launch was done in partnership with the NUJP Baguio Benguet chapter whose area saw journalists being red tagged and collegues facing libel and cyber libel charges.

The NUJP Baguio Benguet chapter said “Six of our colleagues have been red-tagged. The Commission on Human Rights ruled three of these incidents are state perpetrated and have been proven to violate human rights. Two of my colleagues have been charged with rebellion, both were dismissed by the courts. Red-tagging is a form of intimidation, targeting journalists and outfits that critically report on government officials, programs, and policies. Aside from the danger, red tagging intends to discredit the press and diminish the credibility of our reports.”

The NUJP Focus Group Discussions (FGD) reveals journalists who have been red-tagged during the presidencies of Duterte and Marcos and finds 60% of the red-tagging incidents in the last eight years are state-sponsored, and 19.8% of the redtagging by State employed the intimidating method of dropping by, or sending a letter, that cites different government policies as the basis.

Olea said the study also includes red tagged student journalists as well as the struggle of their families who have klikewise been harassed “Isa ito sa pinaka nakaka takot because their families are being “visited.”

NUJP said “From Rodrigo Duterte (2016-2022) to Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (2022-present), the Philippine government has denied or downplayed the existence of red-tagging, or the longtime practice of labeling dissenters as communists in order to silence them, threaten them, or undermine their work. Until a Supreme Court decision made public on May 8, 2024, there was no clear legal definition of red-tagging, which enabled the government for so long to deny the practice, and further, to deny the state policy by practice.”

The study was able to collect information on 159 incidents of red-tagging against journalists from 2016. This is in no way a representation of the full picture, as we acknowledge that some incidents went unreported due to victims’ fear for their security and safety. Of the incidents recorded, 90 cases or 56.6% involved journalists from alternative media, which is not significantly disproportionate to the 69 cases or 43.4% that involved journalists. Maria Elena Catajan 

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