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Reactions to Commission on Human Rights raising concerns over SMNI’s red-tagging of journalists

During World Press Freedom Day, SMNI anchor Jeffrey Celiz made unfounded allegations against Jonathan de Santos, the editor of and Chairperson of NUJP.

Once again, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has criticized Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) for engaging in a red-tagging campaign, this time specifically targeting journalists associated with the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines.

The human rights commission expressed deep concern over the latest wave of red-tagging carried out by the hosts of an SMNI program. It stressed that this practice places innocent individuals at risk of intimidation, violence, and unwarranted surveillance by the government.

In a statement issued on Friday, the CHR strongly denounced “sweeping political generalizations that undermine human rights, reinforce inequalities, and introduce hostile divisions in Filipino society.”

During World Press Freedom Day, SMNI anchor Jeffrey Celiz made unfounded allegations against Jonathan de Santos, the editor of and Chairperson of NUJP (National Union of Journalists in the Philippines).

Celiz falsely claimed that de Santos was involved in the underground activities of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front. Furthermore, Celiz accused, as well as a former correspondent and former NUJP Chairperson Nestor Burgos and Rappler, of affiliations with these communist groups.

In addition to addressing the SMNI anchor’s actions, the CHR emphasized the government’s responsibility to protect freedom of expression and ensure the safety of journalists in the Philippines.

“CHR reminds the state of its obligation to protect these freedoms as a state party to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Both assert that all people have the right to freedom of expression, opinion, and information through any media,” CHR said.

“When red-tagging is used to suppress these freedoms, it becomes a tool to shrink civic space,” the human rights body added.

Netizens also dislike red-tagging SMNI.

Human Rights Watch, a watchdog organization, has raised concerns about the incident. It notes that numerous red-tagged individuals have fallen victim to extrajudicial killings.

In 2022, the CHR previously criticized SMNI anchors for red-tagging, this time targeting LGBTQI rights advocates during the same program.

SMNI, which is under the ownership of Apollo Quiboloy, who is alleged to be involved in sex trafficking, is a member of Kapisanan ng Brodkaster ng Pilipinas.

The broadcasting association can impose sanctions on its members based on the content they broadcast.

Written by Charles Teves

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