Netizens’ free expression in grave threat with cyberlibel conviction

THE CONVICTION of two radio broadcasters in Kidapawan City for simply expressing their opinion in social media –supposedly meant to provide an avenue for personal opinions and narratives – is the latest attack on free expression not only of media practitioners but of everyone who dare share their stand on burning issues. Their conviction may well be a signal that will herald a new wave of attacks against free speech and expression, rights that are in fact enshrined in our very own Constitution.

We condemn in the strongest possible terms the conviction meted by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Kidapawan City to broadcasters Eric Rodinas of Radyo Natin and Larry Baja Subillaga who were charged with online libel by North Cotabato Governor Emmylou “Lala” Taliño-Mendoza.
In a decision dated March 22, the Kidapawan RTC convicted the two broadcasters of online libel with a penalty imprisonment ranging from a minimum of 4 years and one day to a maximum of 8 years and one day. The broadcasters were also ordered to pay P1 million fine, P1 million for moral damages, and P500,000 for examplary damages.

The case sprung from what Governor Taliño-Mendoza labelled as “malicious” statements posted by the two in their social media accounts last March 2017. In his Facebook post, Subillaga said that Taliño-Mendoza was fooling the people of the province, while Dugaduga said the governor became rich because of corruption. The broadcasters said that they will appeal their conviction before the Supreme Court.

This latest development proves what we have been pointing out ever since the passage of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012: that it can be exploited to silence criticism by well-entrenched and powerful people, especially government officials. RA 10175 not only criminalizes libel – something that has long been clamored to be decriminalized – but also sets penalties “one degree higher” than that provided for libel in the Revised Penal Code.

Weaponizing online libel adds to the long list of attacks perpetrated by state forces to the media, which include harassment of journalists, cyber attacks on newssites, legal debacles, and most heinously, killings. This latest development only intensifies the reigning climate of impunity brutely cultivated and propagated by the current administration. Online libel is yet another lethal weapon that can be abused to silence criticism by an apparent insecure government afraid of the truth. We reiterate our call to repeal the anti-cybercrime law, decriminalize libel, and to put a stop to all forms of attacks against legitimate dissent and free speech.

Rappler correspondent evicted from CDO school where Duterte appeared

NUJP ALERT
March 25, 2019

Rappler’s Cagayan de Oro City correspondent was told to leave the campus of the University of Science and Technology in Southern Philippines (USTP) Sunday, March 24, hours before President Rodrigo Roa Duterte arrived to lead the campaign rally of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan.

Rappler correspondent Bobby Lagsa said he was outside the USTP gymnasium, where the campaign rally was underway, doing person-on-the-street interviews when he was approached by a staff of the Media Accreditation and Relations Office (MARO) and told to leave the campus “Para ‘di na tayo magkahiyaan (to avoid embarrassment).”

Lagsa said he was doing interviews outside the venue after he was denied accreditation to cover the event the day before.

He said he tried to get accredited via the Cagayan de Oro City Information Office (CIO) which referred his application to the MARO.

Lagsa said he did not encounter any problem getting inside the USTP campus at about 5 pm and was able to interview several persons outside the gymnasium before he was told to leave.

He said he was wearing his Rappler ID while doing the interviews but said he did not try to get inside the gymnasium. #

NUJP condemns harassment of Gumaca radio station

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines condemns the harassment being perpetrated by Gumaca Quezon Mayor Erwin Caralian and his brother, Vice Mayor El Chor Caralian against Radyo Natin Gumaca.

Radyo Natin Operations Manager Mitch Hernando complains that despite having complied with all the necessary papers, the station is being denied renewal of the Mayor’s permit until now.  She added the duo have also made it hard for the station to secure a business permit for several years in the past. 

But this year, Hernando said the Mayor even went to the extent of trying to conspire with the National Telecommunications Commission in harassing the radio station.

Hernando said the station’s mother network, MBC, had told her Tuesday, March 12, that Mayor Caralian was at the NTC, alleging that Radyo Natin is operating illegally, and wanted the station closed down.

​Two days after, on Thursday, representatives from the NTC, Business Permit and Licensing Office and the Treasury Department indeed came to the station to “inspect.”  After the inspection, however, Hernando claims she received assurance from the NTC representative that the station will not be shut  down.

NTC inspects RN-Gumaca’s registration papers. (Photo from Radyo Natin-Gumaca’s Facebook page)

This is plain harassment meant to intimidate the station and force it to just toe the line.

Media groups have recorded at least 99 cases of attacks and threats against the press during the first 22 months of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.

The NUJP urges members of the media to resist these attacks on press freedom.

This we will say again and again, the independent Philippine press, the Filipino journalists and the freedom-loving Filipinos will make sure that such attacks will not succeed in silencing us.

NATIONAL DIRECTORATE
Hotline +639175155991

Digital Reality Bites: Alternative Media in the Crosshairs of Cyber Attacks

To mark World Day Against Cyber-Censorship, the Southeast Asia Press Alliance (SEAPA) recalls the specific incidents when target news sites were forced offline

Alternative news organizations play a crucial role in informing the people about issues and concerns of public interest that are usually overlooked by the mainstream media. They provide a platform for voices in society that are conveniently ignored, or worse muted, by state and non-state actors alike.

It is precisely this role that makes these segments of the media prone to digital attacks, leading to their sites’ take down. Often, not just once but repeatedly.

Fiercely independent BulatlatKodao ProductionsPinoy WeeklyAlterMidya, and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) have found themselves in this conundrum, with little, if any, prospect of an end to their digital woes.

Cyber attacks have also targeted other news organizations, which are known for their independence and no-nonsense approach to their work, such as the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) and VERA Files since President Rodrigo Duterte took office, prompting suspicions that their stories deemed critical of the policies of the current administration have triggered the online assault.

Since 2016, when Duterte assumed office, at least 10 cases of cyber onslaught against select news outlets have been documented.

A form of censorship, such attacks make information inaccessible to the public, thus undermining freedom of expression and the people’s right to know.

What is a DDoS Attack?

There are various cyber attacks that can be perpetuated against groups or individuals online. A common attack deployed against alternative news websites in the Philippines recently is the distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack.

But what is a DDoS attack?

In a nutshell, DDoS attacks, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), “aim to make online resources temporarily or indefinitely unavailable by flooding them with so much traffic that their intended users cannot access or use them.”

Websites receive traffic from its users on a regular basis but DDoS attacks send unusual volume of traffic overwhelming its capacity until it can no longer be accessible.

“Attackers build their ‘army’ of computers by spreading malware through email, social media, and various websites. Once infected, these networks of computers (‘botnets’) are exploited without their owners’ knowledge to launch a DDoS attack against a target online service,” EFF said.

“DDoS attacks target a variety of services, ranging from banks and corporations to websites belonging to human rights organizations or political dissidents. As these attacks aim to prevent the publication of and access to information on target websites, they can constitute a form of censorship.”


SOURCE: “What is a DDoS attack?”, Electronic Frontier Foundation

Bulatlat, Pinoy Weekly, Kodao Productions websites down

The websites of Bulatlat, Kodao Productions, and Pinoy Weekly were inaccessible on 26 December 2018. (Alternative news sites down in cyber-attack, 28 December 2018)

Pinoy Weekly, in a Facebook post, said their server informed them that the website was “temporarily suspended” as the high volume of traffic on the website was affecting other sites.


Screenshot of Pinoy Weekly Facebook post. 

While Kodao’s website was back up evening of 26 December, it was again inaccessible two days later, with its home page flashing this message, “the account has been suspended.”

In a statement, AlterMidya (a portmanteau of the words alternative and media) said: “Their websites were evident targets of distributed denial of service or DDOS attacks, which made the websites inaccessible since December 26. The shutdown of these websites apparently happened after the news outfits posted articles about the Communist Party of the Philippines’ 50th anniversary.” (Alternative media under siege, 28 December 2018)

Kodao Productions website hacked

The December 2019 hacking incident was not a first for the website of Kodao Productions under the Duterte administration. It was hacked on 6 February 2018. (Kodao Productions Website Attacked, 6 February 2018)

Kodao Productions, in a Facebook post, said their website was down since midnight of 2 February 2018. They said their site admins could not access the website.

The website went back online on 28 March 2018, nearly two months since the attack. Kodao Productions said the website suffered a “‘code injection attack’ that wiped out its files and prevented its online managers from logging in …” (Kodao website is back online, 28 March 2018)

“Its last stories were about the arrest of National Democratic Front of the Philippines consultant Rafael Baylosis and companion in Quezon City before the attack.”

Bulatlat website attacked again

Bulatlat’s website went down again after receiving continuous DDoS attacks from 19 to 29 January 2019. ([Philippines] Cyber attacks continue against alternative news website, 30 January 2019)

“This is yet another attempt to infringe on press freedom and the people’s right to information,” Bulatlat said in a Facebook post.


Screenshot of a Bulatlat Facebook post.

Bulatlat has received support from the Sweden-based group Qurium Media Foundation, which has been helping alternative news organizations monitor and mitigate the attacks. (Alternative news agency from Philippines ‘Bulatlat’ under denial of service attack)

AlterMidya website down after DDoS Attack

AlterMidya (People’s Alternative Media Network), “a network of independent and progressive media outfits, institutions, and individuals,” in a Facebook post on 8 February 2019, said “AlterMidya website down. We admins say this is caused by DDoS attacks similar to what Bulatlat and Kodao Productions experienced in past weeks.”


Screenshot of AlterMidya Facebook post.

Qurium Media Foundation confirmed through a Twitter post the cyber attack against AlterMidya:


Screenshot of Qurium Media Twitter post.

NUJP Website Attacked

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) has also been the subject of cyber attacks under the Duterte administration. On 9 January 2017, NUJP’s website was inaccessible due to a “massive denial of service” attack. (NUJP Website Attacked, 10 January 2017)

NUJP said “whoever are responsible for this attack are enemies of press freedom and of free expression.”

Its website was again briefly inaccessible twice on 8 February 2019 following a DDoS attack that  happened at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. The site was back up later, at 8:30 p.m.

“We believe the attack on NUJP site is related to the ones launched against Bulatlat and alternative news sites Kodao Productions and AlterMidya, all of which host NUJP chapters,” NUJP said in a statement. (Cyberattack downs NUJP website twice, 11 February 2019)

On 11 February 2019, NUJP’s website was down twice again after it was hit by DDoS attacks. The first one was recorded between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., and was restored that same morning. Another attack was recorded mid-afternoon; the website was back online at 4:15 p.m. (DDoS attacks on NUJP, alternative media continue, 11 February 2019)

“According to the initial report of our security auditors, the attackers’ most requested URL path is https://nujp.org/?s=duterte, a page that appears when keyword ‘Duterte’ is searched on the website,” NUJP said.

“We strongly believe this is part of an orchestrated campaign to silence critical outfits and organizations … (it) has also targeted alternative news sites such as those of our affiliates, Bulatlat, Kodao Productions, AlterMidya, and its latest target, Pinoy Weekly,” NUJP said.

PCIJ Website Hacked

The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) said in a 29 July 2016 Facebook note that their website (http://pcij.org) and blog site (http://pcij.org/blog) were hacked and were thus inaccessible. (PCIJ Websites Attacked, 29 July 2016)

“The attack follows the publication of PCIJ reports on the drug war of the Duterte administration, and our ‘Know Your Rights’ advisories for citizens,” PCIJ said.


Screenshot of PCIJ Facebook note.

The hacking of PCIJ’s website is the first recorded news website attack under the Duterte administration.

VERA Files Website Down

The website of VERA Files was down twice shortly after it published on 21 January 2018 a report about the failure of Duterte and his daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio to declare their alleged investments worth millions in their statement of assets, liabilities and net worth. (Cyberattack downs VERA Files website after report on Duterte, Sara’s allegedly undeclared millions, 23 January 2018)

VERA Files said their website was hit by a DDoS attack 30 minutes after publishing the story. It went back up around 2 a.m. the next day and was attacked again at 6 a.m. The site went back up before noon. (Vera Files reports cyberattack after publishing story critical of Duterte, 23 January 2018)

What Now?

Bulatlat and other alternative media organizations is set to hold a protest action on Tuesday, 12 March 2019, World Day Against Cyber Censorship, in front of the National Computer Emergency Response Team ( NCERT) unit of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) office C.P. Garcia, Quezon City in the Philippines at 10 a.m.

Qurium has called on NCERT to investigate the DDoS attacks against the alternative news sites but NCERT has yet to respond. Bulatlat said they will file a civil action case against IT companies where the attacks are being launched. #

Kampuhan ng mga manggagawang agrikultural, dinepensahan ng kolektibong pagluluto

Ni Roge Gonzales

Nitong Pebrero 10 ng umaga, sa pangunguna ng Sama-samang Artista para sa Kilusang Agraryo (SAKA), inilunsad ang Luto! Laban! Sunday Cookout para sa NAMASUFA sa Liwasang Bonifacio, Maynila.

Tumungo ang mga artistang alyado ng SAKA at mga boluntaryo mula sa industriya ng sining, kultura, at kaalaman sa protest camp ng Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farm (NAMASUFA), ang union ng mga manggagawang agrikultural na higit apat na buwan nang nakawelga sa plantasyon ng saging dahil ayaw iregularisa ng kumpanyang Hapones na Sumitomo Fruit Corporation o Sumifru.

Naglakbay pa mula sa Compostela Valley ang 350 sa mga unyonista upang kalampagin ang nagtutulog-tulugang Department of Labor and Employment pati ang Malacañang.

Ginanap ang salo-salo isang araw bago ang takdang police dispersal at ng Manila city government sa kampuhan.

Katambal ang mga iba pang organisasyon tulad ng Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP), Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), Amihan Federation of Peasant Women, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Anakpawis Partylist atbp., layunin ng Luto! Laban! na hikayatin ang mamamayan na palakasin ang panawagan sa regularisasyon ng Sumifru workers, ipagtanggol ang kanilang kampuhan mula sa banta ng clearing operations sa utos ng Manila City Hall, at itigil ng pangulo ang pagratsada sa land-use conversion na matapos magkait ng lupa sa magsasaka ay humahantong sa pang-aabuso sa mga manggagawa ng plantasyon.

Sa katunayan, tungo sa pagtatapos ng aktibidad ay dumami ang pulis na nagdulot ng pangamba sa mga welgista.

Nakaugat ang kanilang pangamba sa ilang beses na nilang naranasang dahas ng estado mula pa sa pagpapatupad ng batas militar ni Duterte sa Mindanao.

Ugnayan ng sining at produktong agrikultural

Liban sa pag-aalay ng tanghaliang crispy tawilis, minced pork with basil, at talbos ng kamote salad ng ihinanda ng mga boluntaryo kasama ng mismong mga unyonista, dalawang palihan ang isinagawa sa protest camp.

Habang abala ang ilan sa pagluluto habang nagtatalakayan, ang mga anak ng Sumifru workers at volunteers (edad 5-8) ay nagsanay sa pagguhit samantalang ang mga manggagawa (edad 20-35) naman ay lumahok sa isang writing workshop.

Nagkaroon din ng mabilisang live sketch session ang ilang visual artist sa gitna ng kampuhan tampok ang kalihim ng unyon habang siya’y nagbabahagi ng mga karanasan.

Ang Liwasang Bonifacio ay naging lunsaran sa pagbabahaginan ng kaalaman at karanasan.

Ang drawing workshop ng mga bata ay uminog sa prompt na “pangungulila sa tahanan”, kung saan sa proseso ng pagtuturo sa mga musmos sa pagguhit ng basic shapes at pagkukulay ay ipinatimo sa kanila ang halaga ng pagbabalik-tanaw sa nakagisnan nilang buhay sa kanayunan na ibang-iba sa lungsod kung saan sila nagkakampuhan.

Mainam itong paraan upang sa maagang kamulatan ay di lamang maipakilala sa kanila ang sining ng pagguhit kundi maipaunawa rin ang ipinaglalaban ng kanilang mga magulang at mabigyan din ng oras ang kanilang mga magulang na makibahagi sa mga aktibidad nang hindi pinuproblema ang mga bata.

Karamihan sa mga iginuhit ng mga bata ay mga eksena ng kanilang pamumuhay sa bukid.

Samantala, nagbukas ang writing workshop sa pakikipagtalakayan ng mga volunteer sa Sumifru workers hinggil sa kung ano ang espesyal na ulam na kanilang hinahanda kapag dumating ang suweldo.

Nailahad ang simpleng pamumuhay ng mga manggagawa sa pagsasabing adobong manok/baboy, sinigang, at sinabawang gulay ang madalas nilang ihanda kapag may pera.

Kasama rin sa talakayan ang halaga ng kanilang produktong agrikultural na isang esensiyal na sangkap sa merkado at ekonomiya ng mundo (e.g., banana chips, halo-halo, ketchup, harina, cereals, feeds, at marami pang iba.)

Sumunod na ibinahagi ng mga manggagawa ang buong proseso at panahon ng paglikha ng produktong saging.

Sa diskusyon, lumitaw na may dalawang pangunahing pagkakahati ang proseso ng kanilang paglikha: sa “erya” o lupang sakahan, at sa planta.

Umaabot sa halos labing-isang buwan mula sa pagbubungkal, pagtatanim, pagpapalago, pag-ani tungong packaging at quality control upang makapagluwal ng export-grade na Cavendish na saging sa mga bansang Japan, Korea, China, New Zealand, Singapore, at Middle East.

Metikuluso ang proseso ng kanilang paggawa sapagkat kakailanganin pa ng tamang “calibration” ng sukat at kalidad ng mga saging (na kinaklasipika nila sa “small hands” at “big hands”). Sa kalkulasyon ng UMA, binabarat ng Sumifru ang mga manggagawa nito sa pagbibigay lamang ng P365 na arawang sahod.

Samantala, sa barat na halagang P15.75 lamang binibili ang kanilang produkto kada kilo mula sa kinontratang grower. Pero ibinebenta ito sa labas ng bansa sa halagang P212.63 kada kilo ng saging. Sa bawat ektarya ng plantasyon ng saging, tinatayang kumikita ang kumpanyang Hapones ng dagdag P18 milyon kada taon.

Isinalaysay din ng mga manggagawa ang kanilang mga saloobin hinggil sa nangyaring marahas na dispersal sa pitong strike camps sa Compostela Valley noong Oktubre 11 at ang pagpaslang ng mga militar at pulis ng kumpanya kay Danny Boy Bautista noong Oktubre 31.

Si Bautista ay isa sa mga pangunahing nagtaguyod mula noong pumutok ang welga noong Oktubre 1. Sinundan pa ito ng panununog sa kanilang union office noong Nobyembre 30 at ang intensipikasyon ng surveillance at harassment mula sa mga militar.

Hindi nakapagtataka kung gayon na natutulak ang mga manggagawa na tahasang lumaban at manindigan sapagkat maging ang payapang pamumuhay na kanilang hinahangad sa Compostela Valley ay ipinagkakait sa kanila ng estado.

Sa alab ng pakikiisa ng iba’t ibang sektor

Matapos ang masayang salo-salo sa pananghalian at kuwentuhan, nagtipon ang lahat upang maglunsad ng pangkulturang programa.

Nakiisa ang mga estudyante at guro ng Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Emilio Aguinaldo College, at UP Los Baños. Tumugtog ang mga musikerong sina Alyana Cabral, Mara Marasigan, at The General Strike. Sa saliw ng makabayang himig at mga mensahe ng pakikiisa mula sa mga kinatawan ng iba’t ibang sektor, naging solido ang hanay at diwa ng sama-samang tanggulan para sa Sumifru workers.

Naging tampok din ang pagtatanghal ng Sining Obrero, ang grupong pangkultura ng NAMASUFA, na inawit ang kanilang orihinal na komposisyon (Padayon, gihapon ang welga sa ComVal!) na punumpuno ng dagundong ng tapang na ipanalo ang welga sa kabila ng pangil ng pasismo.

Naging marubdob din ang pagbasa ng mga manggagawa sa kanilang obra, mga monologue, sa writing workshop.

Saad ni Justy, 25, limang taon nang packer sa plant 220 ng Sumifru, “Hindi po madali ang kalagayan ko doon sa Mindanao dahil sa martial law. Bilang isang manggagawa ay natapakan po ang aking karapatan na ibigay ang dapat sa akin. Hindi rin madali na gumising nang madaling araw upang magtrabaho tapos hindi ka pala makapasok dahil sobra na daw o over-manning. Hindi madali kapag walang katiyakan ang ganitong sistema o porma ng tinatawag na kontraktwal.”

Tagumpay ng sama-samang pagkilos

Sa pagsasara ng programa, ipinaalala ni Lisa Ito, secretary general ng CAP, na ang sitwasyon ng Sumifru workers ay nangyayari sa buong bansa. Sunod-sunod ang mga trahedyang ipinapataw ng gobyerno kamakailan sa mga maralitang manggagawa at magbubukid. Aniya, lalo pa’t hindi nakikita sa mass media ang buong kuwento ng pakikibaka ng Sumifru workers, napapanahon at nararapat ang mga pagtitipon tulad ng Luto! Laban! upang magkaroon ng boses ang mga api.

Kinabukasan ng Luto! Laban!, dalawang linggong palugit ang naipanalo ng kolektibong pagtatanggol ng NAMASUFA’t mga tagasuporta nito para manatili ang protest camp sa Liwasang Bonifacio.

Sa pahayag ng UMA, ang extension nakuha ng unyon mula sa city hall ay “bunga ng pinagsamang lakas ng manggagawa at iba’t ibang sektor na sumusuporta at naninindigan para sa kanila.”

Lalong umiigting kung gayon ang pangangailangan na makipamuhay ang mga estudyante, guro, empleyado, lalo na ang mga manggagawang pangkultura, at sa sama-samang tanggulan para sa Sumifru workers, maisulong ang makatarungang panawagan para sa sahod, benepisyo, at regular na trabaho. #

NUJP beefs up alert and response system for media victims of violence and harassments ahead of mid-term polls

In a bid to be more efficient and effective in responding to continued attacks on media practitioners, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) has strengthened and expanded its regional safety offices throughout the country.

As the country heads for mid-term elections in May, the NUJP media alert system and on-call safety officers become doubly important and necessary as pens, laptops, cellphones and cameras in news gathering.

It is during elections that attacks on media practitioners are unusually high.

The Ampatuan massacre that happened in 2009 was the worst election-related mass murder of media persons in history.

From one safety unit in NCR until the middle of last year, NUJP has extended its reach to four other regions, namely, Luzon, Visayas, Eastern and Western Mindanao.

The Regional Safety Officers form part of NUJP alert and response support services for journalists in distress.

Incidents where reporters, photographers and other members of media are harassed, threatened or killed in the line of duty are reported to NUJP through its hotlines.

The first responder verifies and documents reported incidents and issues alert advisory to news media.

NUJP has also beefed up the number of media safety officers to a total of five, one for each region.

Each responder is on call 24-7 and can be reached thru the ff hotline numbers: (best to graphics) Regional Safety offices

Eastern Mindanao

Globe 09453503459

Smart 09398475242

Western Mindanao

Globe 09453503455

Smart 09398475177

Visayas

Globe 09453503456

Smart 09398475195

Luzon

Globe 09453513454

Smart 09398475174

NCR

Globe 09175155991

Smart 09398475329

The NUJP Safety office has also announced a series of safety trainings for media practitioners up to 2019.

In November 2018, the Freedom for Media Freedom for All documented a total of 99 media attacks from July 2016 to October, 2018.

The Freedom for Media Freedom for All is composed of Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism and NUJP. #

Eight years after, justice remains elusive for Doc Gerry Ortega

Jan. 24, 2019

On this day eight years ago, environmentalist, good governance advocate and broadcaster Gerardo “Doc Gerry” Ortega was shot dead in an ukay-ukay shop in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.

Eight years after, justice remains elusive for Doc Gerry and his family.

Doc Gerry’s case is illustrative of nearly all the media killings in this country or, more accurately, the ones authorities, with no trace of irony, consider “solved.”

For, while the hired guns and accomplices who planned and carried out the hit on Doc Gerry have been tried and convicted, the masterminds remain scot free.

Studies by media groups indicate that most murders of journalists are ordered by local politicians or government officials seeking to silence criticism and prevent scrutiny of their corruption and other misdeeds.

That they remain unpunished proves that injustice in the country – not only for slain journalists but for practically each and every Filipino whose rights have been violated – is rooted in a system of governance in which the corrupt and abusive thrive.

As we remember Doc Gerry, we also honor his family, whose courage and determination to pursue justice have been and will continue to be an inspiration for other families of slain journalists and all those seeking the same ends.

Even as we continue to demand justice for Doc Gerry and for each and every one of the 185 colleagues we have lost since 1996, let us remain steadfast in fulfilling our mandate as journalists – to be the people’s watchdogs against misgovernance and serve their right to know.

National Directorate

NATIONAL UNION OF JOURNALISTS OF THE PHILIPPINES

NUJP denounces ‘CPP legal front’ tag, news website takedowns

Dec. 26, 2018

On December 26, 2018, several news outfits carried stories about a certain Mario Ludades, who claims to be a former ranking officer and founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines, accusing the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines of being one of the supposed “legal fronts” of the revolutionary movement.

On the same day, the alternative media outfits Bulatlat and Kodao – which both house NUJP chapters – were taken down almost simultaneously before noon.

That these assaults on freedom of the press and of free expression took place on the 50th founding anniversary of the CPP is clearly no coincidence.

This is, of course, not the first time the NUJP has been the target of such lies. The organization was also one of those identified as “enemies of the state” in the PowerPoint presentation “Knowing the Enemy” created in 2005 by the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and which the military showed in schools and other venues.

In the case of Ludades, who identifies himself as spokesman of the “No to Communist Terrorist Group Coalition” and an indigenous people’s leader in the Cordillera region, it does not take rocket science to guess who is behind him and the lies he spouts.

The charge of being a “legal front” of the communists is so absurd it is tempting to dismiss it outright. Nevertheless, we are treating it seriously because it puts the organization, its officers and members in potential risk.

On the other hand, the takedowns of Bulatlat and Kodao, which state security forces have also time and again accused of links to the revolutionary underground, bear similar signs as the attack that led to the shutting down of the NUJP site a few months back.

The attack on the alternative media outfits happened soon after they posted stories about the CPP.

They also come after an incident last week when armed men in civilian clothes believed to be military or police operatives were seen in the vicinity of the office building that houses Kodao and a number of activist organizations that the government openly tags as “front organizations” of the communist revolutionary movement.

We stress that the “alternative media” are a legitimate part of the Philippine media community whose take on current events and issues broaden the national discourse and provide an invaluable contribution to the growth of democracy.

Only those who seek to suppress freedom of thought and of expression would seek to silence them and, for that matter, independent media as a whole.

If Ludades and his handlers, and those behind the taking down of the Bulatlat and Kodao sites, couldn’t be more wrong if they think they can intimidate us with stupid stunts like these.

The NUJP and all independent Filipino journalists have not and will never be cowed into giving up the continued struggle for genuine freedom of the press and of expression in the country. This is not a boast. It is a fact.

See related article here: https://www.gmanetwork.com/…/ex-cpp-member-exposes-…/story/…

NATIONAL DIRECTORATE

NUJP on the 70th anniversary of the International Human Rights Day

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is terribly unfortunate that seven decades since this landmark document was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, this day is marked not so much in celebration as in noting how people continue to be deprived of these rights or see these snatched away by repressive governments.

The Philippines, of course, knows this only too well in the last two and a half years since Rodrigo Duterte became president and launched his bloody war on drugs, in waging which he has also taken to openly insulting and attacking critics of the murderous campaign.

Among his targets have been media outfits and their news staff, relentlessly and baselessly accusing them of spreading disinformation, a charge his supporters have echoed and used to threaten and harass journalists, even exhorting others to do the same even as they themselves knowingly spread falsehoods.

Article 19 of the Declaration states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

This right is also enshrined in Section 4, Article 3 of the 1987 Constitution: “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the Government for redress of grievances.”

As we mark another year of violated human rights and repressed freedoms, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines reaffirms our commitment to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the country.

We call on all independent Filipino journalists to strengthen our bonds and solidify our ranks, and resist all efforts to silence or otherwise prevent us from fulfilling our task of serving the people’s sacred right to know.

And amid the continuing efforts to silence critical speech and thought, let us give these voices the space and airtime they deserve that they may be heard and contribute to the ever evolving work in progress that is our democracy. #

 

–THE NUJP NATIONAL DIRECTORATE

Free Satur and France; free the Lumad children

The Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC) condemns the illegal detention of Former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro and other delegates of the National Solidarity Mission (NSM) in Davao del Norte since 9:30 pm last night November 28 by the combined elements of the 56th IB, Philippine National Police and Municipal Social Work and Development Officers.

CRC also denounces threats of Anti-Trafficking and violation of RA 7610 charges against the NSM delegation, after rescuing the Lumad people from further harassment of the army and ALAMARA in their community following the closure of the main school of Salugpongan Ta Tanu Igkakanon Learning Center Inc (STTILCI) in Dulyan, Davao del Norte yesterday November 28, 2018.

The escalation of military attacks on schools spread fear and paranoia among children in the schools of STTILCI and the Lumad communities in Mindanao.

CRC calls for the release of Rep. Satur Ocampo, Rep France Castro and the rest of the NSM. End Martial Law in Mindanao. Let the children study in their schools, pull out military troops from the Lumad communities. #