Statement | For exposing NTF-ELCAC’s lies, Bicol journo red-tagged anew

Reynard Magtoto of Albay-based alternative media outfit Baretang Bikolnon.

Bulatlat condemns the latest red-tagging of Albay-based journalist Reynard Magtoto who wrote an in-depth report about the lies and deceptive activities of the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) in the region.

In a post by a Facebook page named Green Spark, Magtoto and Gabriela local leader Jen Nagrampa were dubbed as “magkasabwat sa kasinungalingan” (partners in spreading lies). It reads further, “Huwag maniwala sa mga sinungaling na kampon ng CPP-NPA-NDF.” (Do not believe the liars who are minions of the CPP-NPA-NDF). The logos of Bulatlat, Baretang Bikolnon, Gabriela and NUJP were also posted.

Bulatlat deems this incident as retaliation for telling the truth about the government’s dirty tactics. Magtoto’s special report exposed how NTF-ELCAC comes up with fake surrenderers as part of efforts to suppress progressive individuals and groups in Bicol. It was published by Bulatlat in December 2023 as part of its human rights reporting project funded by the German Embassy Manila.

While working on the story, Magtoto was subjected to surveillance by state security forces. On December 5, 2023, his mother received a letter from the barangay, urging Magtoto to discuss with the Philippine military matters related to the National Union of Journalists of hte Philippines (NUJP). The letter states that the NUJP is a “target sectoral front organization.”

This latest incident belies claims by the Department of Justice that mechanisms are in place against red-tagging, and that journalists are well protected in this country.


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