Manila Today condemns the baseless and outright red-tagging of our editor Lady Ann Salem—one of the arrested of Human Rights Day 7 (HRD7)—by Lorraine Badoy, Jeffrey Celis, Franco Baranda, and Yna Mortel during their show “Laban Kasama ang Bayan” aired on Tuesday, August 1.

In their program, they blatantly mocked the acquittal decision of the Manila court dated July 27 towards activists Reina Mae Nasino, Alma Moran, and Ram Carlo Bautista known as Tondo 3.

Like Salem and the rest of HRD7, the Tondo 3 were arrested via a raid crackdown last November 2019 and accused of illegal possession of firearms and explosives following the issuance of fabricated search warrants by Quezon City Judge Cecilyn-Burgos Villavert.

Tondo 3 was freed upon posting bail last December 2022. Seven months after their release, the Manila RTC Branch 47 presided by Judge John Benedict Medina granted the Joint Motion for Reconsideration to order demurrer of the case.

On the other hand, Salem including labor organizer Rodrigo Esparago were freed three months after their arrest in December 2020.

Both Tondo 3 and HRD7 were arrested in a similar pattern of midnight raid operations followed by an allegation based on charges of firearms, ammunition, and explosives possession, then accused as per being in a “gun running syndicate”.

But Badoy, Celiz, and the rest of the program hosts, as well as the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) legal counsel James Santos have been maliciously tagging Tondo 3 and HRD7 as “urban operatives” of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New Peoples’ Army (CPP-NPA) of which the Philippine government affiliates as “terrorist organizations”.

Not only there was another branding as ‘urban operatives’ but Celiz made mention about the Anti-Terror Act that can still be used against Tondo 3 and the rest of the freed political prisoners like Salem and Esparago.

Manila Today reiterates red-tagging as a malicious tactic of falsely labelling individuals or organizations as ‘communists’ or terrorist sympathizers only because of expressing dissent. We also denounce on the dangers and weaponization of law through Anti-Terror Act seen not only as a grave violation of human rights but further poses a severe threat to the safety and well-being of journalists and activists alike.

While this is not the first time that personalities on the show have tried to link people and groups to the ongoing armed struggle in the Philippines, we further emphasize the Manila RTC ruling through Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar affirming that CPP-NPA are not terrorist organisations but are waging a revolutionary war for more than five decades.

We call on the Marcos Jr. administration to address rampant human rights violations committed in the first year of his term. That Nasino should also attain justice for the death of her baby last October 2020. That journalists like Salem must not be vilified because of their right to freedom of expression at the expense of other civil and political rights.

In the face of these baseless accusations and desperate vilification, we will not cow down and ultimately call to hold authorities accountable.





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