We strongly condemn the recent videos released by Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI), which went on a red-tagging spree against progressive Filipino organizations based in the U.S., including BAYAN USA. The video comes out as a response to BAYAN USA’s recent statement condemning the Philippine government’s criminal neglect of overseas Filipinos and exposing SMNI’s latest covert misinformation tour that took place in the U.S. earlier this month.
The criminals behind SMNI
The SMNI network is owned by Apollo Quiboloy, a self-proclaimed “Owner of the Universe”, devoted Duterte supporter, cultish pastor of the Davao-based Kingdom of Jesus Christ church, and known sex trafficker. His schemes have included money laundering and trafficking youth to the U.S. to solicit donations to support fake charities and his own lavish lifestyle, owning private jets and multi-million dollar mansions in Davao and California. Quiboloy is currently wanted by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for “Conspiracy to Engage in Sex Trafficking by Force, Fraud and Coercion, and Sex Trafficking of Children; Sex Trafficking by Force, Fraud, and Coercion; Conspiracy; Bulk Cash Smuggling.”
“Quiboloy is not only delusional, but dangerous. He continues dodging criminal investigations into his shady underground network of child kidnapping, labor trafficking, and cash smuggling. He uses his platform as a fake news factory to red-bait progressive organizations serving the community,” said Niko Cababa, Secretary General of BAYAN USA. Quiboloy has also red-tagged former Vice President Leni Robredo, prominent journalists, and other critics of the Duterte and Marcos administrations.
Lorraine Badoy, former spokesperson for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) has also used the SMNI program, “Laban Kasama ang Bayan,” for her red-tagging antics. At the same time, Badoy is currently facing her own contempt order by the Philippine Supreme Court for her outrageous statements and death threats toward Manila Regional Court Judge Malagar, who ruled that the CPP-NPA could not be proscribed as terrorist organizations. At least 485 lawyers in the Philippines released a joint statement calling for accountability for her attacks on Judge Malagar and other human rights lawyers.
Jeffrey Celiz, with the Sentrong Alyansa ng mga Mamamayan (SAMBAYANAN), was also featured on the program and was a speaker during the U.S. tour. Celiz has already been exposed as a liar who falsely testified in a Senate hearing on red-tagging in 2020.
Nothing but hot air
While the SMNI broadcast aimed to respond directly to BAYAN USA’s statement, Badoy and Celiz conveniently avoided addressing our critique of the lack of government response to the people’s burning issues on the one hand, and the legacy of BAYAN USA’s service to the Filipino people in the U.S. on the other.
“They hide behind the tactic of red-tagging and outrageous allegations that we are one of the ‘biggest crime syndicates in the country’ because they have nothing of substance to say,” retorted Cababa. “While they were busy galavanting around the U.S., BAYAN USA organizations were busy responding to the needs of our community here, who — if Badoy and Celiz knew anything about the lives of Filipinos in this country — are not all living in the ‘comforts of a first world experience’ like they claim.”
“People join our organizations not only because we are there for them, but also because they come to learn the power of organizing together to fight for their rights,” continued Cababa. “Badoy and Celiz’s assertion that Filipinos are ‘unwittingly’ joining people’s organizations is an insult to every Filipino who has experienced first-hand the failures of the government to serve their interests, and taken it into their own hands to advocate for what is right.”
Our message to the Philippine government is clear: Stop wasting the public’s time and tax dollars on NTF-ELCAC platforms that are only self-serving outlets for the likes of Quiboloy, Badoy, and Celiz.
Shutdown the SMNI Fake News Factory of Trafficker Quiboloy, Badoy, and Celiz!
End the Red-Tagging!
Activism is Not Terrorism!