September 26, 2023

Desperate to become relevant and maintain their airtime “fame,” the hosts of Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI’s) “Laban Kasama ang Bayan”, pathological red-taggers Jeffrey Celis and Lorraine Badoy along with Yna Mortel and Franco Baranda, continue to ride on the red-tagging caravan.
This time, even journalists and writers from the Cordillera region are the targets of their lies and rampage.
During the program’s May 25 show, which is currently posted on YouTube, the hosts branded journalists Harley Palangchao and Frank Cimatu and freelance writer/editor Luchi Maranan as among the urban operatives and networks of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army.
The hosts also accused Palangchao and Cimatu along with other members of an Asian indigenous peoples organization of planning to raise funds for the communist rebels. They urged the government to take action against the individuals. Their mere proof is a group picture taken from a Facebook post during a dinner hosted by a non-government organization in Thailand.
The post was swamped with their trolls which had a feast day lambasting those in the picture.
On the contrary, Palangchao and Cimatu are the editors-in-chief of the Baguio Midland Courier, the oldest-running community newspaper, and Baguio Chronicle, respectively.
Both are also founding members of the Kordilyera Media-Citizen Council (KMCC), a media-citizen engagement mechanism to ensure public access to relevant information and responsible reporting.
Palangchao and Cimatu, both award-winning journalists, were in Thailand representing their respective media outfits and KMCC in a disinformation hackathon with other ASEAN journalists and media practitioners. They were not in the same conference as the other parties appearing in the photograph presented in the said show.
The allegations are false and pose a grave danger to the red-tagged individuals, their families, colleagues, and friends.
The journalists contacted the hosts of their workshop and were even advised if they wanted to continue, as the red-tagging not only compromised their security and privacy but that of the other journalists who attended. They decided to stay put but their movements were limited.
Red-tagging has contributed much to the country’s human rights crisis. The practice has put individuals in the crosshairs of state security forces and resulted in the imprisonment and deaths of numerous activists and government critics. It weakens democracy by stifling free speech, discriminating against individuals based on political beliefs, subverting the right to due process, and brushing aside legitimate concerns as communist propaganda.
It is deplorable. However, condemnation is no longer enough to dampen this vicious lie. We must act with urgency and make the perpetrator liable.
KMCC and its media organization partners stand with our colleagues and other individuals maliciously associated with communist rebels: the government and the public to work together to end red-tagging immediately.
We urge our legislators to pass appropriate measures to penalize this cowardly act. We likewise demand that SMNI cease its malicious attacks against journalists and human rights defenders.