Plaridel Hall, home of the University of the Philippines – College of Mass Communication in the UP Diliman campus in Quezon City (wikimedia commons photo)

The University of the Philippines – College of Mass Communication (UP-CMC) came out with a strongly worded condemnation and warned that if something bad happens to any of their students, “the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC), particularly Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, Jr., shall be held responsible.”

“At a time when all government agencies should be focused on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, it is deplorable that the NTF ECLAC and Parlade are engaged in Red-baiting,” the statement read.

The UP-CMC decried Parlade’s red-tagging of various media and cause-oriented groups in a post of the NTF ECLAC Facebook page last May 12 wherein the military official claimed that these groups whom he accused of being communist fronts are exploiting the shutdown of broadcast giant ABS-CBN. Among the groups he identified was the Union of Journalists of the Philippines (UJP), a student organization of the UP CMC.

However, Parlade did not offer any evidence to back up his accusations.

“Let this be our final warning to the NTF ECLAC and Parlade: We take Red-baiting of our students seriously. An attack on our students is an attack on our College,” the UP-CMC statement warned Parlade.

It added that persons being accused as a communist “could be arrested, detained or killed” are on the rise, the UP CMC said “there is every reason to worry about our students’ safety and security.”

For this, it warns its students, especially the members of UJP, to be even more careful.

“Let it be said, however, that the College shall protect our students’ basic rights, especially their freedom of speech and of expression as mandated by the 1987 Philippine Constitution. The dangers notwithstanding, we encourage our students to fight for the right to information and free speech,” it continued

It downplayed Parlade’s accusations that the communists are using the ABS-CBN franchise renewal controversy saying the active involvement of their students with the campaign to renew the network’s franchise “reflects what they learned within and beyond the four walls of the classroom.” It added that their actions are to defend press freedom “for the simple reason that it is under siege.”

Instead of telling its students to stand down, the UP-CMC “actually commends our students for their bravery as they face the bashing of mindless trolls, and now the Red-baiting of those who do not understand press freedom.”
“For the information of NTF ECLAC and Parlade, our students are guided by the College’s vision for a free and independent media which is hardly communist. They also emulate our faculty members and alumni who speak truth to power,” it added.

It chided the NTF ECLAC and Parlade for accusing UP-CMC for “communist sympathizers. The College instead advised NTF ECLAC and Parlade to investigate “Wow China” program has been airing on the government radio since 2018 and why the President and some government officials “bow to the wishes of communist-led China even at the expense of national sovereignty”.


READ: China’s radio program on PH radio station ‘clearly propaganda’ – Hontiveros 


Parlade, in February, said he finds nothing malicious in “exposing” communist front organizations.

Another government official was heavily criticized for red-tagging any organization that criticizes the government.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines earlier said that Presidential Communications Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy should be held accountable for any harm that falls on media outfits whom she branded in a news program as “terrorist” communists.

“By linking the NUJP with communists, which Badoy also branded as terrorists, journalists are clearly painted as enemies of the state. This is essentially an open call for state forces to threaten, harass, arrest, detain and kill journalists for doing their job,” NUJP said.

Like Parlade, Badoy did not provide any proof, even though she repeatedly claimed there was, that certain media organizations, including the NUJP are communist fronts.

“Are they or are they not part of the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army)? They are,” Badoy said. (Rommel F. Lopez)