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VERA FILES FACT CHECK: SMNI anchor makes BASELESS claims that PhilStar.com editor, NUJP were part of CPP-NPA-NDF

PhilStar.com editor Jonathan De Santos was “active in the underground operations” of the CPP-NPA-NDF in his younger days.

No basis

Jonathan De Santos was never a member of the CPP-NPA-NDF.
As a student at the University of the Philippines (UP) Los Baños, he was a member of the student publication UPLB Perspective and the theater organization Thespian Circle. In UP Diliman, he was a member of the sports organization Rifle Pistol Team and the Outdoor Recreation Group. None of these organizations were considered as an activist group.

Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) anchor Jeffrey “Ka Eric” Celiz’s claim that Jonathan De Santos, editor of PhilStar.com, was “active in the underground operations” of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) has no basis.

De Santos chairs the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), which Celiz also falsely described as a creation of the CPP-NPA-NDF.

STATEMENT 

On World Press Freedom Day, May 3, Celiz said in an episode of SMNI’s Laban Kasama Ang Bayan:

“Before we got on board, we checked on him.  Itong si Jonathan De Santos ay naging aktibo po sa underground operations ng CPP-NPA-NDF no’ng kabataan niya…

 

Source: SMNI Network official YouTube channel, LIVE: Laban Kasama ang Bayan, May 3, 2023, watch from 36:57 – 37:08

Encouraged by Lorraine Badoy, former spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, Celiz went on to say:

​​At ang NUJP ay plataporma na binuo ng CPP-NPA-NDF para mag-infiltrate sa hanay ng mga midya in the guise of press freedom promotion and in the guise of independent journalism.”

 

Source: watch from 37:09 – 37:23

FACT 

De Santos was never a member of the CPP-NPA-NDF.

At the University of the Philippines (UP) Los Baños, De Santos was a member of the student publication UPLB Perspective and the theater organization Thespian Circle. In UP Diliman, he was a member of the sports organization Rifle Pistol Team and the Outdoor Recreation Group.

“None of these are even really considered activist groups,” De Santos said in a message to VERA Files Fact Check.

Celiz did not provide any basis for his statement that NUJP is a “platform created by the CPP-NPA-NDF.” The group, formed in 1986, specifically focuses on “the plight of working journalists, which would include freelance journalists and those working in non-unionized companies.”

The late Antonio Ma. Nieva of the Philippine Herald was its founding chairperson with Leo Santiago of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) as secretary-generaI.

NUJP founding member Joel Paredes wrote on its official website that the organization is “a professional newsmen’s guild to help colleagues in need while working to uphold press freedom in and out of the workplace.”

“The goal was to help empower its members to collectively negotiate with employers and government, patterned after the unions affiliated with the International Organization of Journalists and the International Federation of Journalists,” he added.

On May 9, the NUJP issued a red-tagging alert here. In a statement two days earlier, its chapter in PhilStar.com condemned attacks against the journalists mentioned by SMNI, calling on the KBP “to exercise its disciplinary powers over its members.”

 

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Sources

Jonathan De Santos, Personal communication (text), May 5, 2023

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, Official website, accessed May 5, 2023

Xave Gregorio Twitter account, Last week, our entire newsroom was red-tagged for just doing our jobs…, May 7, 2023

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, [Alert] NUJP chairperson, entire leadership red-tagged on national TV, May 9, 2023

 

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)