MANILA, Philippines — A spokesperson of the controversial anti-communist task force created by President Rodrigo Duterte red-tagged yet another media outlet, this time over articles that corrected false claims on Lumads and an indigenous school that caters to them.
National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) spokesperson Lorraine Badoy labeled Rappler “a friend and ally” and “mouthpiece” of communist rebels in separate Facebook posts where she aired her grievances over two fact-check articles by the online news outlet.
Badoy also accused Rappler of lying and defending communist rebels for essentially debunking claims using verifiable facts.
For one, Rappler disproved Badoy’s claim that the term “Lumad” was created by the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front by referencing a National Commission for Culture and the Arts article that defined Lumad as a Bisayan word meaning “native” or “indigenous.”
The NCCA is a body under the Office of the President.
But Badoy accused Rappler of ignoring the “meat” of what she wrote, which tackled how communist rebels supposedly used the word Lumad to their benefit.
In another fact check, Rappler also disproved a photo that supposedly shows that indigenous school Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev) teaches Lumad children to become members of the NPA.
The news outlet did this through a reverse image search that showed that the photo actually came from a 2017 theater performance reenacting the killing of Alcadev’s school director and two community leaders.
Despite this claim being clearly debunked, Badoy maintained that Alcadev is a training camp for children to become armed communist rebels.
Not the first time
In a statement posted on social media, Rappler said it is in no way defending the NPA through its fact checks.
“Rappler will continue to strive for truth and combat disinformation by citing reputable sources in our reports. This mandate is never an indication of terrorism, but of our inclination toward democracy and justice,” it said.
It added, “We, at Rappler, are committed to truth-telling. We likewise advise Badoy to stick to the facts and to put an end to her relentless habit of baseless red-tagging.”
This is not the first time that Badoy claimed communist influence at a news outlet that was just doing its job.
In November 2020, following the onslaught of back-to-back typhoons, Badoy red-tagged CNN Philippines for reposting a call for donations by the League of Filipino Students, which she baselessly called a “known communist front.”
The TV network pushed back against Badoy, saying that the storms should prompt Filipinos to unite in the spirit of “bayanihan,” rather than “foray into red-tagging that will only sow disunity.”
Rights groups have consistently warned against red-tagging, as those accused can be exposed to harassment, threats to life and even death.
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