News and features

A call for UN expert to look into disinformation, red-tagging vs journos, activists

Rights group calls on UN expert to look into disinformation, red-tagging
vs journos, activists

KARAPATAN Press Release –

26 October 2022

Rights group Karapatan denounced the most recent disinformation
campaigns and wholesale red-tagging against journalists and human rights
defenders in the Philippines, and said that such acts violate and impact
on the exercise of press freedom and freedom of expression in the country.

“We call on the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion
and expression to look into this dangerous pattern of disinformation and
red-tagging which affects the exercise of press freedom and freedom of
expression, when she conducts her reported official visit in 2023. We
likewise call on the companies of social media platforms such as Meta,
Youtube, Tiktok, and Twitter to address the deluge of online
disinformation and threats against the journalists and activists,” said
Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general.

“It has not been long since broadcast journalist Percy Lapid was killed,
and yet the red-tagging enterprise of Lorraine Badoy-Partosa and Jeffrey
Celiz, and of the military officials of the NTF-ELCAC, through Apollo
Quiboloy’s network, have become more brazen and relentless in spreading
lies and terror-tagging more individuals from the media, activists and
critics. Someone has to pull the plug on this red-tagging spree, as the
lives and safety of everyone at the receiving end of this dangerous
practice are on the line,” she added.

In a show over Quiboloy’s network, journalists Atom Araullo, Inday
Espina-Varona, and Vergel Santos were named as “operatives” of the
CPP-NPA-NDF. Prior to this, National Union of Journalists of the
Philippines secretary general Ronalyn Olea of Bulatlat was likewise
called an “operatibong internet operator” of the CPP-NPA-NDF. Other
journalists like Ed Lingao, Lourd de Veyra and Rose Novenario, received
threats on social media following the killing of Lapid. Uncoordinated
visits to journalists in their homes were also conducted by the
Philippine National Police.

“We ask these mad red-taggers, are you the prep team for attacks against
more journalists on the government terror list? These red-taggers have
previously used the same media platform in attacking individuals and
institutions which provide critical information to the public,” said

Meanwhile, the group also condemned the threats and harassment against
members of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) in Negros, where they received text messages tagging them as “NPA terrorists.” Unknown men believed to be State agents were also seen standing outside their office for about an

Both NFSW spokesperson Mario Tapi-on and member Danilo Tabura received a number of text messages on October 24, saying: “wait kamo da sa inyo nga mga grupo sa npa terrorist da lang kita sa inyo office katig a gd sa inyo” (wait in your npa terrorists group there in your office). Another
message read, “piho na gid ang katikalon ninnyo sadya ini” (you are so
sure of yourselves this will be fun).

The two came from a press conference where they reiterated their call
for justice for victims in the Negros raids of 2019, where 57 people
were arrested, including Tabura, after police raided the offices of
NFSW, KMP and other offices of people’s organizations using search
warrants issued in Quezon City. The raids are believed to be part of the
government crackdown against activists and government critics.

Also, since last week, a certain Facebook page Kalumuran Mindanao,
posted online posters with the words “Wanted: Dead or Alive” and which
contain photographs of known women’s rights defenders, trade union
activists, and other progressives in Southern Mindanao, including
Gabriela-Southern Mindanao leaders Dr. Jean Lindo and Cora Espinoza.

The concerned individuals and groups have appealed to the public to
report the said posts.

“These continuous red-tagging of government trolls in the internet,
Badoy, Celiz, the military and police, and Cabinet officials like DOJ
secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla should not be taken lightly, as this
online information ecosystem works as part of the whole operation plan
of Marcos Jr. government’s counter-insurgency to suppress political
dissent. As the president focuses on decorating its administration with
lights and sounds, fun vlogs and mediocre speeches, his administration
is apparently working double-time to normalize red-tagging and labelling
persons as terrorists and communists, as prelude to further threats to
their life and safety.”

“Such is the vicious campaign of the Marcos Jr. administration, a
continuation and intensification of the previous administration’s
attacks against the people, which should be strongly condemned by
freedom of expression advocates. Stop the threats and red-tagging, stop
the attacks!” Palabay ended.

Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District
Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146