The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines condemns the malicious red-tagging of two respected colleagues, Roberto “Bobby” Coloma, the bureau chief for Singapore and Malaysia of Agence France Presse, and business and economic journalist Roel Landingin, who were named along with several other prominent graduates of the University of the Philippines who were falsely described as having joined the New People’s Army and had died or were captured.
This brazen lie, posted on the Facebook account Armed Forces of the Philippines Information Exchange, administered by OJ7 (Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil-Military Operations), has since been taken down but not before screenshots were taken to document the outrage.
Aside from Bobby and Roel, the post also named, among others, the late director Behn Cervantes, lawyer and former government peace panel chair Alex Padilla, former DENR executive Elmer Mercado, former IBP president and ex-congressman Roan Libarios.
It is appalling how the military office tasked with communicating with the citizenry has shamelessly resorted to such blatant falsehood to push the narrative of UP as the supposed “breeding ground” of enemies of the state.
We would normally dismiss this canard as laughably stupid. However, putting the people it names in mortal danger is no laughing matter at all. Especially since AFP units are known to spread disinformation such as this through their own social media accounts.
Here are some of the Facebook pages of military units that have shared this falsehood:
SecondtoNone Infantry Battalion
355th Aviation Engineer Wing, PAF
OG7 7ID PA
201st Infantry – Kabalikat Brigade, PA
10th Infantry Steady On Battalion
2nd CMO Kabalikat Company
77th Infantry “Don’t Dare” Battalion
Doble Dos Valor Battalion
141st CMO Special Enabler Company, 14CMOBn
Western Command Armed Forces of the Philippines
54th Engineer Brigade
We all know too well of the often fatal consequences of red-tagging. It does not matter whether the accusations leveled at targeted personalities or organizations are true or not. It is sufficient that they stand accused.
That these units shared this post means they believe in the truth of the accusations. Would it be farfetched to worry that they might go from sharing the accusations to actually taking action against those so accused?
The possibility of OJ7 disgracing itself and the AFP is the least of our worries. The very real danger is how those who wield the armed might of the state can so easily and brazenly engage in such obvious and deadly falsehoods without any thought to the consequences.
We, the community of independent Filipino journalists, denounce this dangerous slander against Bobby Coloma and Roel Landingin and all those so falsely accused by the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil-Military Operations.
We shall not let this pass. You will be held to account.