‘Disgrace to journalism, Filipinos’: NUJP slams Manila Times ‘local communists’ editorial cartoon

October 26, 2020 - 3:23 PM
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NUJP's "masked media" face mask (NUJP/Facebook)

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines on Sunday denounced the editorial cartoon of a newspaper that appeared to encourage the military’s red-tagging of government critics and progressive groups.

In a statement on October 25, NUJP described the editorial cartoon of Manila Times which was titled
“The Many Faces of Local Communists” as a “disgrace to journalism.”

The editorial cartoon of the long-running broadsheet showed a man wearing a shirt and a hat bearing the symbols of communism. He was also painting mask that were labeled lawmakers, feminists, activists, educators, clergy, artists and journalists.

“Shame on the Manila Times for running an editorial cartoon that parrots the mindless red tagging by government of critics and dissenters. The cartoon, titled ‘The many faces of local communists,’ shows a communist rebel apparently painting masks to be worn by figures labeled lawmakers, feminists, activists, educators, clergy, artists and, yes, journalists,” the organization said.

NUJP noted that given that it is still a news organization, the Manila Times should have tackled the issue of red-tagging with “more depth” than a mere “cartoonish vilification” of the figures of Filipinos cited in the editorial cartoon.

“We do not begrudge the Times its biases and the, undoubtedly, millions of reasons for this. But we do expect it, since it does claim to still be a news organization, to tackle issues with more depth than this cartoonish vilification of a large cross-section of Philippine society, sans context and, most important, evidence,” it said.

Such published material also placed the lives of thousands of Filipinos at risk, which NUJP described as the “greatest disservice to the profession” and the public.

“Worst of all, by totally ignoring the most basic tenets of journalism, it has placed hundreds, nay, thousands, of Filipino lives in the crosshairs of government and its state forces. This, most of all, is its greatest disservice to the profession and to the Filipino people and nation,” it said.

What journalists said

Veteran journalist and NUJP chair Nonoy Espina likewise expressed alarm over the editorial cartoon on Twitter.

Meanwhile, ABS-CBN reporter Josiah Antonio cited the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists which he stated the old media outfit did not abide to.

The second rule of the SPJ Code of Ethics mainly stated that:

“Ethical journalism treats sources, subjects, colleagues and members of the public as human beings deserving of respect.”

One of the specific principles also stated that journalists should:

“Balance a suspect’s right to a fair trial with the public’s right to know. Consider the implications of identifying criminal suspects before they face legal charges.”

A Twitter user who introduced himself as a cartoonist with the handle @cartoonistzach addressed the editorial cartoonist whom he described as “a disgrace to Philippine journalism.”

“This cartoonist is a disgrace to Philippine journalism for amplifying the propaganda of the Duterte administration. He was even one of the invited cartoonists when @CartooningPeace visited Manila, as he was regarded as an ‘ambassador of free speech.’ He showed his true colors,” the user said.

What went before?

The editorial cartoon was released days after the commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Southern Luzon Command and spokesperson of the government’s anti-communist task force group, Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr., urged Liza Soberano and Catriona Gray to rethink their ties with the youth arm of rights group for women Gabriela Women’s Party.

RELATED: ‘Protect Liza Soberano, Catriona Gray’ hashtags launched after military man issues warning vs Gabriela Youth ties

Parlade then called out Rep. Arlene Brosas (Gabriela Party-list) and accused her of having “hidden violent agenda” in terms of supposedly recruiting people.
In a statement last week, Soberano’s legal counsel Atty. Juanito Lim Jr. denounced any form of red-tagging on the actress on social media and asserted that the actress “remains apolitical.”
The camp did not specify any account or person making these accusations.
“Ms. Soberano remains to be apolitical. She does not support nor antagonize any person’s political views. The important point here is respect for others, a virtue she has conscientiously practiced all her life,” Lim said. 
Gray, meanwhile, released a video encouraging the public to speak up for themselves to help others in the future.
“You never know who you’ll help feel seen, courageous or comforted. When you speak up for yourself, know that in sharing your stories, you’re speaking up for others too,” she said. 

Similar to Soberano, the beauty queen also did mention names on her post.