SMNI hosts’ red-tagging spree vs reporters anew ‘gravely’ alarms CHR
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Friday raised the alarm over the repeated red-tagging of Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) hosts, now targeting several reporters affiliated with the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP).
Philstar news editor and NUJP chair Jonathan de Santos, together with other NUJP and Rappler reporters, were accused of having communist ties by SMNI hosts, without backing it with concrete evidence.
“The [CHR] is gravely alarmed by this repeated incidence of red-tagging by this SMNI program. As we have repeatedly warned, red-tagging exposes the tagged party to intimidation, violence, and unnecessary state surveillance, which directly impede journalists’ human rights, most notably their right to the freedom of opinion, expression, and the press,” said the CHR.
This is not the first time that the network has red-tagged journalists. Previously, journalists Atom Araullo, Inday Espina-Varona, and Vergel Santos had also been the target of SMNI hosts.
“CHR warns against sweeping political generalizations that undermine human rights, reinforce inequalities, and introduce hostile divisions in the Filipino society,” said the Commission.
According to the CHR, the government must protect the people’s right to freedom of expression, opinion, and information.
“When red-tagging is used to suppress these freedoms, it becomes a tool to shrink civic space. Further, it creates a climate of fear and silence that is not conducive to open exchange of views and ideas, which is essential to a free press that must bring to light legitimate social concerns,” said the CHR.
SMNI is owned by Apollo Quiboloy, an ally of former president Rodrigo Duterte and a man wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for alleged sex trafficking.