CLAIM: The Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI)’s Laban Kasama ang Bayan hosts, including former Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy, had resorted to “red-tagging” news organizations during their August 3 program, following the fact-check reports versus Pastor Apollo Quiboloy’s remarks.
On July 7, Altermidya fact-checked Quiboloy’s reaction following the student-led protests and walkouts in response to the victory of President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio in the May 9 elections.
Quiboloy had accused state universities and colleges like the University of the Philippines (UP) as “recruitment agencies” of communist groups.
In the SMNI program, Badoy, who’s also the former spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC), labeled Altermidya as a “creation of” and “run by” the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front.
On August 2, News5 concurred with Altermidya’s findings in their own report on the #FactCheckED segment of primetime evening newscast, Frontline Tonight.
“Itong News5 had the gall, had the audacity to fact check Pastor [Quiboloy],” Badoy said in the program. “For me, the issue here is why would a supposedly legitimate news organization [like] News5 use Altermidya as your fact-checker? What really is going on here? What kind of journalism does News5 practice?” she added.
She also reechoed Quiboloy’s claims on alleged communist recruitment inside the universities, saying it’s the “official stand” of the Philippine government.
In their separate reports, both Altermidya and News5 flagged the dangers of baseless accusations such as red-tagging, which was also stressed by the UP President’s Advisory Council itself in a statement.
The two media outfits are part of the #FactsFirstPH, a coalition of over 140 news organizations, civil society groups, business organizations, and research and legal groups working together to fight disinformation in the Philippines. The initiative has been recently awarded as “Most Innovative and Impactful Collaboration” at the Global Fact 9, an annual international fact-checking conference.
Altermidya, founded in 2014, is a network of independent and progressive media outfits in the country, and has been among the targets of intensified red-tagging under the Duterte administration for their critical reporting.
In 2020, Altermidya and three of its member organizations filed complaints before the Ombudsman against NTF-ELCAC officials, including Badoy, over allegations of ties with the armed communist movement.
Altermidya said the frequent red-tagging placed their members in grave danger, like the arrest of Lady Ann Salem, editor of alternative news outfit Manila Today, on December 10, 2020. The court cleared Salem and her co-accused of charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives in February 2021.
By 2022, Badoy faced more complaints from other groups and individuals that accused her of multiple violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the Code of Conduct for public officials. She has been called a “serial red-tagger” for accusing groups and individuals as communists without basis.
Quiboloy is the leader of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ which owns the SMNI. He is currently on FBI’s “most wanted list” for “conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion and sex trafficking of children; sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion; conspiracy; and bulk cash smuggling.”
SMNI, on the other hand, “has been found to be at the core of the network of online assets who red-tag government critics and attack the media,” according to an investigative report by Rappler.
Davao Today is part of #FactsFirstPH which brings together various sectors that are committed to promoting truth in the public space, and exacting accountability on those who harm it with lies. For those interested to join the initiative, email email@example.com.