MANILA, Philippines – Piston strongly condemned Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) over red-tagging comments by its presenters, who said leaders of transport and teachers’ groups that supported the recent jeepney strike should be labeled as terrorists and imprisoned.
On the program “Labang Kasama ang Bayan,” on Tuesday, March 7, former anti-insurgency spokesperson Lorraine Badoy and Jeffrey “Ka Eric” Celiz urged the government to designate as terrorists Mody Floranda of Piston and France Castro of Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), who they alleged were linked to communist insurgency groups in the country.
In response to the accusations, Piston slammed SMNI for its “red-tagging spree against the transport groups who held a successful two-day strike.”
“Lumahok ang mga tsuper at operator sa tigil-pasada dahil tinutulak sila mismo ng mga anti-mahirap na polisiya ng gobyerno at dahil kailangan nilang ipagtanggol ang kabuhayan nilang gustong i-masaker ng pamahalaan,” Floranda said. “Ang SMNI at red-tagging ang dapat i-phaseout, hindi jeepney.”
(Drivers and operators join the strike because the anti-poor policies of the government compel them to, and also because they have to fight for their livelihoods, which the government wants to massacre. Phase out SMNI and red-tagging, not jeepneys.)
Piston also highlighted the scandals faced by Apollo Quiboloy, who owns SMNI. Quiboloy was indicted by United States prosecutors for sex trafficking, placing him on the most wanted list of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Meanwhile, Badoy already drew in at least 12 administrative and criminal complaints against her for relentless red-tagging, along with a show-cause order from the Supreme Court for her threats against Manila Regional Trial Court Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar.
Celiz also had his credibility and motives questioned by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers during a Senate hearing on red-tagging in November 2022.
“Bago tumalak ng kung ano-anong kasinungalingan ‘yang sila Jeffrey Celiz at Lorraine Badoy, baka nakakalimutan nilang isang kriminal ang nagpapalamon at nagpapasahod sa kanila. At baka nakakalimutan din nilang sila mismo ay may mga kinakaharap na criminal charges ,” said Floranda. “‘Yun na lang ang harapin nila kesa siraan ang mga tsuper at operator na gusto lang ipagtanggol ang kanilang hanapbuhay.”
(Before Jeffrey Celiz and Lorraine Badoy hurl all sorts of lies, they shouldn’t forget that they are led and salaried by a criminal. And maybe they forget, too, that they themselves face criminal charges. That’s what they should face rather than destroying the image of drivers and operators who just want to fight for their livelihood.)
During the March 7 program, the SMNI presenters alleged that Piston president Floranda was a “CPP-created personality” and ACT Teachers Representative Castro really led the “Alliance of Communist Teachers.”
“Government has to follow suit. That means putting these people behind bars, ‘yung mga Mody na ‘yan? Because we already know who they are,” Badoy said, urging the government to crack down on the red-tagged groups.
“We have a very beautiful and very powerful law. Let’s enforce it to the fullest: the anti-terrorism law. So, let’s do it,” Badoy added, citing as a precedent the designation of community doctor Natividad Castro as a terrorist.
Aside from Floranda and Castro, Badoy also included Arlene Brosas, Raoul Manuel, Neri Colmenares, Teddy Casiño, and Carol Araullo to her list of “terrorists.”
“Tuwing nakikita n’yo ang Piston, nakita n’yo ‘yung mukha ni France Castro, ‘yung Alliance of Communist Teachers na, sige, nagkakiyaw-kiyaw, tapos confused kayo, maganda ba talaga itong issue na ‘to? Pero ‘pag nakita mo na ‘yung mga pagmumukha ng mga CPP na ‘yan, alam n’yo na kung ano ‘yung bulungan na labas sa bibig nila, makakasama sa ating bansa,” Badoy said.
(Whenever you see Piston, when you see the face of France Castro, the Alliance of Communist Teachers, and they keep on yapping, and you’re confused whether it’s a good issue or not? When you see the faces of these CPP people, remember that whatever comes out of their mouth is to the detriment of our country.)
Celiz, who claims to be a former New People’s Army rebel, insisted that Piston was being used by communists as a legitimate front organization.
“Piston is a communist party-created transport association serving as a front organization,” Celiz added. “Alam ko ‘yan, ma’am, na ito ay CPP active operative sa urban area. Si Mody ay hindi driver lang o leader ng transport group (I know that, ma’am, that he is a CPP active operative in the urban area. Mody is not just a driver or leader of a transport group).”
“The government cannot be hostaged by a noisy minority, which is very partisan, instigated, and supported by CPP-NPA-NDF para lamang sa magsabotahe ng programa ng gobyerno (just to sabotage the government’s program). The government cannot do that,” Celiz also said.
Celiz wondered whether Floranda and Mar Valbuena – the chairman of Manibela, the transport group that initially announced the strike – could be charged for sedition and economic sabotage.
The accusations came after transport group Piston, along with other groups, declared a weeklong strike to protest issues perceived in the government’s jeepney modernization program, which they fear would force operators of traditional jeepneys to consolidate or be phased out. The strike came to an end after leaders of protesting transport groups met with Malacañang officials, who promised a review of the modernization program.
ACT also previously expressed support for the planned weeklong strike, which prompted Vice President and Department of Education Secretary Sara Duterte to declare ACT as a “lover of the useless ideologies espoused by the New People’s Army (NPA), the Communist Party of the Philippines (CCP), and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDF).” – Rappler.com
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