PCOO not engaged in red-baiting

January 10, 2019, 6:03 pm

MANILA -- The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) is not engaged in "red-baiting" or "red-tagging", contrary to the claim of media group National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), Malacañang said Thursday.

In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo denied the accusations made by NUJP against the PCOO-attached office, the Philippine News Agency (PNA), on the alleged government hand in identifying their group and its members as a legal front of communist groups.

"Siguro -- baka lang paranoid sila (Maybe they are just paranoid). Wala (Nothing), there is no such thing. PCOO will not do that," Panelo said.

The NUJP cried foul over an article published by PNA over a group of former communist members who denied that their claims against NUJP being linked with the left is part of an orchestrated plan to silence communists.

The article, titled "Red link tag on NUJP not 'orchestrated': ex-rebels" and published online on Jan. 8, cited the said group, Kilusan at Alyansa ng mga Dating Rebelde (KADRE), which narrated that the “hardcore elements” in the NUJP made sure to block the release of their stories and their “freedom to expose the truth.”

The NUJP claimed that KADRE is a "purported" organization meant to vilify their group and the free press.

In an earlier interview, Maguindanao Governor Ismael “Toto” Mangudadatu, whose wife and 57 other people including journalists were killed in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre, said that press freedom was bolstered under the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

Under the Duterte administration, the PCOO has been engaged in activities, which advance the protection and safety of media workers in the country, primarily with the creation of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security.

Last December, the Philippines was removed from the list of the top five most dangerous countries for journalists in 2018, according to the annual report of media freedom organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

In October, the Philippines was named by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) as one of the countries with an 'improved status' in its 2018 Global Impunity Index.

The PCOO is the primary communication arm of the Office of the President and the Philippine government and is tasked to deal with concerns of members of the press. (PNA)