We strongly condemn the NTF-ELCAC’s callous, dangerous, and evidence-less red-tagging of the Altermidya network.
At the third hearing of the Lacson committee on red-tagging or red-baiting, held on December 1, 2020, Executive Director Allen Capuyan of the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict used his time to red-tag many organizations—including independent news entities. He presented a deck of slides that, among other allegations, purported to show that the institutions that belong to the Altermidya network were part of the Communist Party of the Philippines or its “propaganda machinery.”
This is a baseless blanket statement: provided without proof, presented as an out-of-context infographic, fraught with deadly consequences. Red-tagging, especially without credible evidence of wrongdoing, is a devious form of disinformation. Other institutions red-tagged have been systematically harassed or demonized; other individuals, especially women, have been trolled, detained, assaulted, even killed.
The Altermidya network offers independent readings of national issues and events—which a functioning democracy should welcome as part of a healthy pluralism in the public discourse. It is admirably committed to reporting on corruption, human rights abuses, and environmental issues, as well as the plight of farmers and workers. And some of its institutional members, including but not limited to Bulatlat.com and Northern Dispatch, have a well-deserved national reputation for high-quality journalism: hard-hitting, yes, but also rooted in the facts.
The network has done its journalism despite great risk, including death threats and a massive distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. We therefore view this latest act of red-tagging with the utmost concern. It renders these community journalists even more vulnerable to abuse and violence, at the exact time we need more of their journalism.
Asian Center for Journalism at the Ateneo de Manila University
Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
Consortium on Democracy and Disinformation
Foundation for Media Alternatives
National Union of Journalists of the Philippines
Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
Philippine Press Institute
University of the Philippines Department of Journalism