If the whole-of-nation, whole-of-government approach had been truly embraced by the Philippines eight years after then President Duterte signed Executive Order 70, Jeffrey Celiz and Lorraine Badoy would not be holding a hunger strike today.
If government functionaries, those elected and appointed, truly understood that the Communist rebellion is the biggest obstacle to development and is the real Diablo the demon that has caused murder, robbery, extortion and wanton destruction and has fragmented the people over more than five decades, Jeffrey could have gone home to his wife and kids in Iloilo while Dr. Lorraine could be enjoying the Yuletide season with her loved ones.
But they are now detained.
Deprived of liberty over a perceived affront to the Speaker of the House whom Jeffrey claimed spent at least P1.8 billion in travel funds for 2023 alone.
Jeffrey is a friend and former comrade in the Communist Party of the Philippines and was my Panay island counterpart when I was secretary general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in Negros island.
I was designated by the Party, then led in the island by Ka Frank Fernandez, to lead this legal front.
He was promoted to the New People’s Army national staff while I went back to Party propaganda work by infiltrating Bacolod-based news outlets and even some Manila outfits and media NGOs all of whom were not aware of my allegiance.
The issues are flying thick and fast against Jeffrey and Doc Lorraine, among them that they are not accredited journalists and that the Sonshine Media Network Incorporated should be denied a franchise.
It is also worth mentioning that the two are linked with the Duterte power bloc and are assumed, especially by foes, to be doing the bidding of former President Duterte and his daughter who is now the sitting vice president.
It is worth pointing out some specifics based on the public lives of Jeffrey and Doc Lorraine.
First, since they came out openly against the Communist movement during Duterte’s term, they have been roundly criticized, villified, demonized, and dismissed as nothing more than attack dogs of Duterte.
The only carte blanche crime they have committed is “redtagging,” an imagined crime and word invented by the Left for the Left and believed by those who are mentally frail being predisposed to shrieking and wailing hysterics much sought after on social media and easily gobbled up by emotionally frail kids with unproductive behavior watching kittens and puppies on their phones after switching between pornsites.
Are they journalists? Going by the definition of those engaged in “gathering and processing the news,” the quick answer would be yes. Are they considered journalists by those who claim to be moral guardians of journalism?
Surely not. The semi-lengthy answer would be: like the drug cartel in Mexico, the Communist Party’s tentacles run across key institutions in the country, among them the press that was a crucial component of its Second Propaganda Movement before social media broke the hold of legacy media.
The success (or notoriety) of the Communist movement lies in its ambiguity, in its capability to project a two-faced image – the cruel and brutal ones in the countryside and the cultured, kind, considerate and virtuous ones in the cities.
Aside from our warfighters or soldiers who are the real heroes in confronting tge evils of Communism in the ground, there are those who do combat in other fields.
Duterte brought clarity into the fight against the Communists with EO70. For the first time, the terrorists were clearly defined as the enemy against us, the people.
For the first time since the CPP broke ground in the then virgin Philippine society naive about its danger of bringing social decay, Duterte drew the line like what Colonel Travis did at the Alamo and invited Filipinos to combat the Red scourge.
Celiz and Badoy were among those who were drawn to Duterte’s call for clarity. Celiz became a star witness in the Senate hearings while Badoy became spokesperson of the End Local Communist Armed Conflict.
Like Duterte, both understood that the Communists thrived in the cracks of walls, much like dog ticks, flourishing in the shadows and thriving in the spirit of every Filipino doubtful of the government, the democracy we live in, and our way of life.
To assail their status as journalists is to believe that all so-called “barefoot journalists” and those working in outlets bannering “journalism for the people” are not purveyors of lies and propaganda of the CPP.
I was among those who trained these “barefoot journalists” in Negros island many years ago and I was fully aware that they provided propaganda support for guerrilla fronts through a blocktime radio program bought using money sourced by the CPP through so-called “non-government organizations” funded by foreign agencies.
The movie Mission Impossible introduced us to the concept “desperate times call for desperate measures” and Jeffrey and Dr. Badoy understood this.
True, Dr. Badoy became a ranking official of the government and Jeffrey became a founder of the National Cadre Team but this does not, in any way, diminish what they did to break the culture of impunity that the Communists first brought to the country even before they weaponized it against the government.
For the first time in a long time, the Communists, who used to think they were dominating propaganda work, were caught with their pants down as Jeffrey exposed their schemes in the urban centers, even exposing what he knew personally (firsthand knowledge in legalese) as a former Communist operative who had extensive knowledge of urban operations.
He even named for the first time in a long time the urban-based leaders of the CPP and the schemes they use to recruit people to their cause.
The first time I listened to him after I had a stroke, I was still entertaining thoughts of still working for the Party for fear that I might be killed.
When Jeffrey bravely stood up for what he knew, I sensed the death knell was sounding for the Communists.
Are Jeffrey and Dr. Badoy doing journalism? Yes. Only that Jeffrey is informing it with his personal experience, providing insights critical to knowing how to connect events in the past to the the events now and its future trajectory.
The Left in the Philippine press calls it context, as if they own the franchise to it.
Jeffrey simply used context while Doc Lorraine has shown a fearless attitude in exposing the ills of the Communist insurgency.
I felt shame for not being able to do what they did: covering crime and terrorism the way it should be: expose it as destructive to the nation, the way Anabel Hernandez did it to the cartel in Mexico.
I understand now that reporting on crime and terrorism, a real and present danger in the Philippines, is not being done and not incentivized simply because funding stream from foreign sources is usually for reporting on issues against the government.
That is the naked truth.
Until Jeffrey and Doc Lorraine came, most news outfits were afraid to report extensively on the Communist insurgency and the havoc it brings to the community.
Only a few reporters did so. In Negros, for example, the NPA bombed the towers of radio stations dyWB and dyHB in the 80s simply because they reported against the NPA.
Several reporters became targets for execution.
Those who felt aggrieved by Jeffrey and Doc Lorraine’s reporting can take legal means against them like filing a libel charge if they think they have proof.
I urge, too, Jeffrey, who is more trained as a rabble rouser since his activist days to be more thorough with documents and in recording his sources and present these with more candor to the public.
To stifle them with bludgeoning from the House, however, is a disservice to the nation.
They present the disruption to unchallenged dominance of the Left in propaganda.
Winning that propaganda war is crucial to winning the war against the Communists who are now in the throes of defeat.
Stifling them sends a wrong message that true patriots ready to risk their lives and ready to have their names sullied can become collateral in the political intramurals of those who rule.
The overriding mission is to defeat the Communists now, more than ever.I come from an island where people had a romance with the Communists and where they nearly toppled the government in the 80s.
It is here where they now kill unarmed civilians.
The Communist menace is not just a beat for me to cover and my island is not just a place for parachute journalists to go to so they can appear macho and have stories to tell their drinking buddies.
Its defeat or continued existence matters if our lives would be better in the future or if we should continue to live under the shadow of the Communists who want to force their way of life of democratizing misery and poverty.
I do not wish to, like Alexandr Solznenitsyn, languish in the gulag and blame myself for the misery of letting Communism win in my country.
Journalists are supposed to provide clarity even in times of confusion. Jeffrey and Doc Lorraine provide us with clarity with what they do.
It is, at this point that we remember what a great American journalist, Edward Murrow once said:
“We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men – not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular.”