NUJP: Red tag on media group an assault to press freedom
DAVAO CITY—The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) on Wednesday slammed a statement made by a certain Mario Ludades, tagging the media group as “legal front” of communists.
Nonoy Espina, NUJP chair, said in a statement the Red tagging was “absurd,” and an attack against press freedom.
The NUJP statement came after several news outfits carried stories on December 26 about a certain Mario Ludades, claiming to be a former ranking officer and founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), accusing the NUJP, along with other journalist groups, of being one of the “legal fronts” of the CPP.
“The charge of being a ‘legal front’ of the communists is so absurd it is tempting to dismiss it outright,” said Espina, through statement issued by its national directorate. “Nevertheless, we are treating it seriously because it puts the organization, its officers and members in potential risk.”
Ludades, who claimed to be the spokesperson of the “No To Communist Terrorist Group Coalition,” named the NUJP, the Students Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP), the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), among the CPP’s legal fronts.
“Whether Ludades is or is not what he claims to be, what is clear is that, contrary to his slander, it is he who is being used not only as a propaganda mouthpiece against the rebels but also, and much worse, to spread falsehoods against organizations that are critical of government abuse,” the statement read.
He said the NUJP had been known to speak against the apathy and government inaction that nurtured the culture of impunity surrounding the continued murder of journalists.
“This is, of course, not the first time the NUJP has been the target of such lies,” Espina said, adding that the group had earlier been labeled among the “enemies of the state” by the military because of its critical reportage on the government.
Espina was referring to the PowerPoint presentation “Knowing the Enemy” created in 2005 by the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) during the time of former President Arroyo.
News websites of alternative media outfits Bulatlat and Kodao, which both housed NUJP chapters, were taken down almost simultaneously before noon on December 26, which marked the CPP’s 50th founding anniversary, NUJP said.
“The takedowns of Bulatlat and Kodao, which state security forces also accused of links to the revolutionary underground, bear similar signs as the attack that led to the shutting down of the NUJP site a few months back,” the NUJP said. “The attack on the alternative media outfits happened soon after they posted stories about the CPP,” the NUJP said.
“Only those who seek to suppress freedom of thought and of expression would seek to silence them and, for that matter, independent media as a whole,” the statement said.
The statement said Ludades and his “handlers” couldn’t be more wrong if they thought they could intimidate the media. “The NUJP and all independent Filipino journalists have not and will never be cowed into giving up the continued struggle for genuine freedom of the press and of expression in the country,” the NUJP said./ac
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