Media practitioners took issue with GMA News reporter Tina Panganiban Perez’s controversial question to Maginhawa community pantry organizer Ana Patricia Non in a webinar hosted by Philippine Press Institute (PPI), the national association of newspapers last April 29.

The main issue was how the question was framed and the “lack of research” behind it, which placed the subject in danger of being red-tagged.

Most of the panelists agreed that the question was accusatory. Perez asked Non in a Zoom press conference last April 20: “Just to set the record straight, para wala nang masyadong tanong tanong or duda sa iyo, meron ka nga bang links to [a] communist group until now or nagkaroon?”

“Napakadumi po ng question na ‘yan,” Non replied.

Human Rights Watch researcher and former journalist Carlos Conde pointed out that “a lot of the journalists, dozens of people, activists that have been red-tagged had ended up being murdered and killed.”

“So, if you’re going to throw the question like that, you have to be mindful of this context,” Conde said.

Philippine Daily Inquirer Columnist John Nery said journalists needed to be “sensitive” to the vulnerability of the subject.

“Precisely because she (Ana Patricia Non) has been red-tagged. We know that there are serious consequences, deadly consequences of red-tagging in the Philippines,” Nery said.

Nery, UP journalism professor Danny Arao, journalist Rhaydz Barcia and Pulitzer Prize winner and PressOne.PH editor at large Manny Mogato agreed that the question should have been open-ended to allow the subject to deny the accusation.

According to a 2012 study by the International Peace Observers Network Philippines, a nonprofit human rights organization, the worst outcomes of red-tagging are warrantless arrests, torture, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings.

Prior to the controversial interview, Non temporarily stopped the operations of her community pantry last April 20 due to the red-tagging on social media.

The full webinar, titled “Journalism 101: How (not) to ask questions,” is available for viewing on the PPI’s official Facebook page. Isabell Andrea Pine