Duterte’s SONA is a pack of boasts and lies – Filipinos in Asia Pacific

26 July 2020

Reference: Dolores Balladares-Pelaez
Spokesperson, MIGRANTE Asia-Pacific
Tel. (852) 9747-2986

Filipino migrants in Asia-Pacific will not be silenced as Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s trumpets boasts and lies in his fourth State of the Nation Address (SoNA).

Four years into the Duterte presidency, Filipinos are now fighting a regime that multiplies the difficulties the people face with the pandemic. We have had enough.

For the Duterte regime, overseas Filipinos are but cash cows as shown by its drive to make PhilHealth mandatory to Filipinos abroad, at the same time as it increases the premium to be paid. The mandatory initial payment is Php2,400, after which the amount will depend on the monthly salary, with some annual payments amounting to Php 21,600 in 2020 and will increase dramatically in the coming years.

Scores of migrant Filipino workers have complained about this, stating that this is a requirement before they could leave. OFWs are resisting to pay this as PhilHealth is useless in our places of employment, with work contracts having insurance provisions. With serious allegations of almost Php1 billion questionable transactions in PhilHealth, there is a growing fear that the hard-earned money of OFWs will go to fatten the pockets of corrupt officials.

Aside from the mandatory PhilHealth contribution, there are other government exactions, including the Social Security System (SSS) contribution, which is another requirement for the superfluous Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC). The fees charged by the SSS, PAG-IBIG, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and other fees migrant Filipinos oppose to, are mere money-making schemes, as these fees do not translate into better services for migrant Filipinos, our families, or the Filipino people in general and milking the OFWs dry.

Speak Out protest in Hongkong (Video from MIGRANTE Asia Pacific)

The problems continue to pile up. The response of the Duterte government to the COVID-19 crisis has made life for both OFWs and their families even more miserable. From the start, it did not refuse people from coming into the country. When it finally did, it also prevented OFWs, residents, and students from returning to the places of their employment. This resulted in OFWs being terminated by their employers for failure to report back to work.

Other migrant Filipinos who were able to stay in their places of employment in the region faced other problems. Some were overworked, abused, or incapable of getting their own supplies for prevention of COVID 19. However, the embassies or consulates began lessening their working days, such as in Japan and Thailand. We were left to fend for ourselves, even with the Philippine government blaming migrant Filipinos for resorting to eating trash to survive, or selling their blood to survive. Now, we are facing the repatriation of 167,000 OFWs, the funds for which may dry up by August. As of last month, only 33% have been repatriated. By 2021, an estimated 10 million OFWs might be displaced.

To top it all, majority of OFWs did not receive the AKAP DOLE was supposedly distributing. Our families back home are also exempted from receiving financial aid from the government as they have OFWs for relatives. This is aside from the problem of how our families can maintain their daily sustenance, with the lockdown the Philippine government imposed on ordinary citizens (but not on government officials), and the government unable to consistently deliver meaningful assistance. As of this month, the Philippine government has secured US$5 billion for COVID-19 response, with Php374.9 billion has already been released, yet it has reached a dismally small number of Filipinos. Certainly, it has reached a minority of Filipinos in Asia-Pacific, as OFWs continue to complain of the inaccessibility of the assistance. The same can be said of Filipinos still in the Philippines.

The situation of migrants has always been miserable, but it is worse now due to COVID-19 and the Philippine government’s ineptitude. And now that more and more people are clamoring for better social services, wiser spending of government funds, punishment of government officials violating the lockdown, the anti-terror act (ATA) was enacted. With the anti-terror act in place, it will embolden government officials in attacking just about anyone who even merely complains about government services. We remember the case of Taiwan OFW Elanel Egot Ordidor, expressing her frustration with the government’s services, faced a cyber-libel case. The government eventually backed down due to public outcry.

Attacks on press freedom have intensified, as even mainstream media is being targeted. Independent and critical press, who reports on corruption and bad practices of governance, is seen as thorn on the side, and Duterte wants it to be muzzled and dealt with. If the Duterte government is going after the big, established institution, what is in store for us ordinary citizens?

Speak Out protest in Aotearoa (Video from MIGRANTE Asia Pacific)

The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict will be even more aggressive in terrorist-tagging the progressive movement overseas, which it has been doing even before the ATA. Cases of this has been seen in the region, specifically Australia, Hong Kong, and New Zealand, wherein those who are expressing their dissent to government policies are vilified and tagged as terrorists.

With the ATA in force, it will also be used against critics of the intrusion of the imperialists US and China into Philippine territory. Duterte allowed the full foreign ownership of national resources and operation of utilities. He made a 180 degree turn on his pronouncement to terminate the US Visiting Forces Agreement, after much ado due to the cancellation of his lackey’s visa. He clings to the US, and uses the increased aggressiveness of China’s occupation of the Scarborough Shoal as the reason to maintain the unjust treaty. But it is mere posturing, as he still allows Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) to operate without paying taxes. If anything, he is afraid of the people’s ire, and is therefore willing to continue to be both US and China’s lapdog, in an attempt to some semblance of protection. As Duterte clings to both due to his waning power, so will protests rain.

Hence, the Asia-Pacific Filipino migrants refuse to be silenced. We, along with the rest of the Filipino people, live the reality of having a Duterte regime: Hungry, miserable, but angry! Enough with the sweet lies. Migrant Filipinos, let us Speak Out Na! Let us oust Duterte now!

Alaala at Pagkilala kay Ka Juaning Rivera

IN HONOR OF COMRADE JUANITO (KA JUANING) RIVERA
By Jose Maria Sison
Founding Chairman, Communist Party of the Philippines
July 6, 2020

I wish to express sincerest condolences to the family of Comrade Juanito (Ka Juaning) Rivera and to all the comrades who have worked closely with him, loved him and are now saddened by his passing away.

This is a time of grief. But it is also the time for honoring Ka Juaning and celebrating all his achievements in serving the people, especially the proletariat and the peasant masses, as a communist, a Red commander and mass leader of vast experience.

As Chairman of the Central Committee and Military Commission of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), I had the honor of co-founding the New People’s Army with Ka Juaning on March 29, 1969 in Talimundok (Sta. Rita), Capas, Tarlac.

We were also together in the Plenum of the CPP Central Committee in May 1969 when he, together with other peasant cadres and veterans of the old Communist Party and the Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan were elevated to membership in the Central Committee of the CPP.

Being a peasant himself and having led the peasant masses as a revolutionary cadre and barrio captain, he understood very well the problems of the peasant masses in the haciendas of Tarlac and in the entire Philippines.

He excelled at arousing, organizing and mobilizing the masses in carrying out land reform and raising production, undertaking social programs and training mass activists for Party membership, mass work and service in the people’s army.

We worked together in providing politico-military training to the revolutionary activists from the national capital region and the expansion teams of the NPA for Isabela, other provinces of Central Luzon and for the Southern Tagalog and Western Visayas regions.

Thus, he made significant contributions to building the foundation and immediate expansion of the CPP, the NPA, the mass organizations and the local organs of political power. At the same time, he was always mindful of the concrete improvement of the lives of the people.

He made sure that the peasant masses built better houses and ate better as a result of their gains from land reform. He was strict at banning drinking and gambling places. And he promoted cultural activities that spread the revolutionary message among the youth and the people.

When the headquarters of the CPP shifted to the Isabela forest region, Ka Juaning came for meetings of the Political Bureau and the Central Committee and always contributed substantial reports and recommendations and participated in deliberations and decision-making.

Up to the time of my capture in 1977, I knew Ka Juaning as a dedicated, competent and effective proletarian revolutionary fighter and ever loyal servant of the people. Thus, he assumed higher responsibilities in the CPP, the NPA and revolutionary movement while I was in prison.

I am aware that after his imprisonment his health condition did not permit him to go back to the armed revolutionary movement. He went back to farming and was always proud of the lasting effects of land reform carried out by the revolutionary movement. And he devoted himself to promoting agricultural cooperatives.

I was pleased when then Rep. Jose Yap (Mang Aping) informed me that he had engaged Ka Juaning as a peace consultant at the time explorations and preparations for peace negotiations were being done in the period of 1989 to 1992.

Mang Aping and I always wished that Ka Juaning could travel to The Netherlands. But his health condition did not allow him to take a long flight. From a distance, I continued to admire him for his continuing service to the peasant masses and the interviews that he gave to journalists, social researchers and peace advocates.

Ka Juaning has lived a long and rich life of service of the people, faced grave risks and dangers to his life and surmounted tremendous odds in fighting for the people’s just cause and struggle for national and social liberation against foreign and feudal domination. He is an outstanding and inspiring historical revolutionary figure, whose example is worthy of emulation by the people and the revolutionary movement.

Long live the memory of Comrade Juanito (Ka Juaning) Rivera!
Emulate his revolutionary service to the Filipino people!
Carry out the people’s democratic revolution until total victory!

Manifesto sa Kalayaan at Karapatan

Nananawagan tayo sa iba pa nating kapwa mamamahayag, artista, manggagawang pangkultura at tagapagtaguyod ng kalayaan sa pamamahayag na lumagda sa ating manipesto. Isulat lamang ang inyong pangalan bilang komento sa post na ito. Ilalabas natin ang mas mahabang listahan sa Hulyo 18, araw na magiging epektibo ang batas. Lumagda at magpalagda para sa ating kalayaan at karapatan. Magpalaganap ng tapang. Magkaisa laban sa tiranya.

Lumagda sa: https://forms.gle/6z8o9CE1XucMAnLH7 .

ABS-CBN’s Franchise: WHO’S DECIDING?

The House of Representatives is set to vote on ABS-CBN network’s franchise after 12 joint committee hearings facilitated by the Committee on Legislative Franchises along with the Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability.

ABS-CBN’s 25-year franchise expired on 4 May 2020. On May 5, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) ordered the network to stop with operations on their regular frequencies. ANC continued on cable and some programs on the network’s social media platforms.

Twelve bills for the renewal of franchise were filed with the 18th Congress. But the Committee which oversees the process only began discussing the pending bills for ABS-CBN after the network was forced to close down. The hearings on the issue leaned heavily on complaints about the unfavourable coverage that some of the members of the House had received from the news programs.

The Freedom for Media, Freedom for All (FMFA) network believes that citizens should have a say about this issue as the closure of one of the largest networks in the country has disrupted the flow of news and information and the availability of entertainment that have become a part of their lives. It is important for Filipinos to know how these representative will decide on ABS-CBN’s franchise bid. #

–FREEDOM FOR MEDIA, FREEDOM FOR ALL

[Images by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism]

AMARC Asia-Pacific Demands Immediate Release of Elena “Lina” Tijamo and Frenchie Mae Cumpio of the Philippines

25 June 2020

KATHMANDU, Nepal–AMARC Asia-Pacific demands the immediate release of Elena “Lina” Tijamo, the Community Radio Coordinator of a farmers’ group (FARDEC) in Bantayan Island, Cebu, the Philippines. Elena, 58, was forcibly taken from her home in Barangay Kampingganon, Bantayan, Cebu in the evening of June 13. According to media reports, suspected military elements—four armed masked men in civilian clothes accompanied by two women—held back family members while they covered Tijamo’s mouth with tape, tied her hands, and took her away. As of today, Elena remains missing.

Elena is the program coordinator for sustainable agriculture FARDEC, non-profit, non-government organization that offers paralegal and educational services to farmers facing land issues. She is also the Community Radio Coordinator of FARDEC in Bantayan Island, Cebu. According to media sources, Elena was red-tagged by state elements as being an “alleged New People’s Army.” In its statement of June 14, FARDEC has said “our stand for the rights of farmers has resulted in the targeting of FARDEC by protectors of vested interests.” A detail media report is available at https://kodao.org/iawrt-community-radio-coordinator-abduct…/.

The incident happened while the much-protested “Anti-Terrorism Bill” in the Philippines is in the process of becoming law. The bill, fast-tracked from May 29 and approved in Congress three sessions later, was condemned by all quarters of Philippine society—media, schools, lawyers, church, business, celebrities, etc. for the broad definition of terrorism that may be used against critics.

Speaking on the incident, Ramnath Bhat, President of AMARC Asia-Pacific has demanded the immediate release of Elena “Lina” Tijamo. He has also expressed grave concerns over the continuously deteriorating conditions of media freedom and freedom of expression in the Philippines. “Intimidation of human rights workers and media activists including community radio workers is deplorable and unacceptable, it must stop immediately. We call upon all concerned authorities of the Philippines including the judiciary to take necessary steps to protect human rights and media freedom and upon the wider media, activism and development community to highlight her illegal abduction. We express our solidarity and support to Elena’s family as well as with all community radio workers and human rights activists of the Philippines who are continuing the struggle”

On a similar case, AMARC Asia-Pacific has noted, with much distress the decision of the Tacloban Regional Trial Court to junk the omnibus motion to quash the search warrant used by the police and military to arrest broadcaster and journalist Frenchie Mae Cumpio and four other human rights defenders last February 7. The decision denies our colleague freedom and perpetuates the injustice she suffers. AMARC Asia-Pacific reiterates its protest against Cumpio’s arrest. We reckon that her imprisonment is unjust and she must be freed immediately!#

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AMARC is the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters. It has more than 400 member community radio stations and advocate groups worldwide and enjoys an observer status with the United Nations.

Resist the further erosion of our rights

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines bewails the filing of another cyber libel complaint against Rappler CEO Maria Ressa over a tweet she posted in February 2019.

The suit brought against Ressa by Wilfredo Keng, the same complainant in the cyber libel case for which she and former writer-researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr. were convicted, this time cites a February 15, 2019 Tweet showing screenshots of a 2002 Philstar.com article on the businessman’s alleged links to the murder of a former Manila councilor.

This article, which Philstar took down on February 16, or a day after Ressa’s tweet, because “the camp of Mr. Wilfredo Keng raised the possibility of legal action,” was one of the sources cited in the article over which the first suit was filed.

As grave as the implications the conviction of Ressa and Santos hold not only for the media but for every Filipino who uses the Internet and social media, we fear this complaint, if the State further perverts the law, could spell doom for freedom of expression online.

To our colleagues in the community of independent journalists, let us remain vigilant and continue to resist all attempts to intimidate and silence us.

To the people, we call on you to stand with us. We cannot afford to lose freedom of the press because it belongs to you, the people we serve. It is this freedom that allows us to serve your right to know by delivering you the timely and accurate information you need to decide on your individual and collective futures.

To the State, we ask: Do you really believe you can continue to subvert the rule of law and further erode our already diminished rights and freedoms without an accounting?

The NUJP National Directorate

Tinututulan namin ang Panukalang Batas sa Terorismo

Bakit kaya laging naiisip ng mga opisyales ng ating pamahalaan na ang batas at kaayusan, kapayapaan at seguridad ay napapagtanto lang pag natatamaan ang ating mga karapatan?

Kami, mga mamamahayag, samahan ng mga midya, mga grupo ng lipunang sibil (CSOs), akademya at iba pang nababahalang indibidwal ay talagang tinututulan ang panukalang batas laban sa teror na mabilisang isinagawa ng Kapulungan ng mga Kinatawan sa pamamagitan ng malawakang pagpapatibay sa Panukalang Batas ng Senado Blg. 1083, upang maisagawa na ng kumperensya ng komiteng bicameral at agarang maipasa ito’t maisabatas.

Isang bagay lang ang dapat maging malinaw: Laban kami sa terorismo.

Gayunman, kasingsama man ng Human Security Act of 2007 ang panukalang batas na ito, magiging mas masahol pa ito kung maisasabatas, kaya’t mas angkop pang tawagin itong Panukalang Teror o Terror Bill.

Hindi lamang lilikhain ng panukalang batas na ito ang isang “Konseho Laban sa Pananakot o Anti-Terror Council” na may kapangyarihang magtalaga, sa “maaaring dahilan” lang, sa mga tao o sinupaman bilang mga terorista o grupo ng mga terorista, pinapayagan din nito ang Anti-Money Laundering Council, na kasapi ng ATC, na pigilin ang mga ari-arian ng mga taong ito o grupo, lahat nang walang binibigay na pagkakataon sa kanila upang ipagtanggol ang sarili at ipagkaila ang anumang impormasyon laban sa kanila.

Mas masama pa, pinapayagan ng panukalang batas ang ATC na magkaroon ng kapangyarihang ikulong nang walang hudisyal na mandamyento de aresto ang mga suspek ng hanggang 14 na araw ng kalendaryo, na maaaring pahabain pa ng 10 araw.

Ang mga ito’y maliwanag na paglabag sa iginagarantiya ng Saligang Batas sa nararapat na proseso at naglalaman ng pangungubabaw sa kapangyarihang panghukuman.

Mas matindi pa, palalalain pa ng panukalang batas na ito ang impunidad kung saan karamihan sa ating mga batas at karapatan ay nilalabag na ng mismong mga sumumpang poprotektahan at itataguyod ang mga ito sa pamamagitan ng pagtatanggal ng mga mahihigpit na parusang inilaan upang mahadlangan ang anumang pang-aabuso sa pinakadambuhalang hakbang ng panukalang batas na ito, ang ekstra hudisyal na paghuli at pagkulong sa mga suspek.

Isinasapanganib din ng malubha ng nasabing panukalang batas ang mga prinsipyo ng kalayaan ng pamahayagan at pagpapahayag sa Seksyon 9 na tumutukoy sa krimen ng “pang-uudyok sa terorismo,” na maaaring maisagawa “sa pamamagitan ng mga talumpati, proklamasyon, sulatin, sagisag, balatengga o iba pang mga representasyong tulad niyon” at mapaparusahan ng 12 taon sa kulungan.

Gayunman, ang probisyong ito’y madali pang lagyan ng anumang malawak na aplikasyon tulad nito at ginamit na ng mga nakaraang administrasyon ang mga umiiral na pagkakasalang pang-uudyok sa sedisyon at rebelyon upang durugin ang malayang pagpapahayag at takutin ang mga kritiko.

Ang epekto, ang pag-ulat ng mga tao at grupong itinuturing na terorista, o kahit na pag-uulit lang ng sinabi nila, ay maaari nang mangahulugang pang-uudyok sa terorismo.

Bagamat lahat tayo’y sumasang-ayong mahalaga ang paglaban sa terorismo at kailangan ng pakikilahok at kooperasyon ng bawat isa, pinaninindigan naming ang nasabing panukalang batas ay lantad sa pang-aabuso ng mga despotikong gobyerno upang isagawa ang terorismo laban sa mga kritiko at sa mamamayan sa pangkalahatan.

Kung pagninilayan ang isang batas na lalaban sa terorismo, pinakamahalagang dapat isaalang-alang ay ang paggalang at pagtatanggol sa karapatang pantao. #

(Salin sa Filipino mula sa orihinal na Ingles ni Greg Bituin Jr.)

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We Reject the Terror Bill

Why do our government officials always think law and order, peace and security can be realized only at the expense of our rights?

We, journalists, media organizations, civil society groups, academics and other concerned individuals unequivocally reject the anti-terror bill that the House of Representatives railroaded through the wholesale adoption of Senate Bill No. 1083, to do away with the bicameral committee conference hasten its passage and enactment into law.

Let us be clear about one thing: We are against terrorism.

However, bad as the Human Security Act of 2007 is, this bill, should it become law, would be much worse, so much that it would be more apt to call it the Terror Bill.

Not only does this proposed law grant an “Anti-Terror Council” the power to designate, on mere probable cause, persons or entities as terrorists or terrorist groups, it also allows the Anti-Money Laundering Council, an ATC member, to freeze the assets of these persons or groups, all without granting them the opportunity to defend themselves and refute any information against them.

Worse, the proposed law would also allow the ATC to authorize the detention without judicial warrant of arrest of suspects for up to 14 calendar days, extendible by another 10 days.

These clearly violate the Constitution’s guarantee to due process and constitutes a usurpation of judicial power.

Worse, this bill would worsen the impunity with which many of our laws and rights are violated by the very ones sworn to protect and uphold these by doing away with the stiff penalties intended to prevent any abuse of this legislation’s most draconian measure, the extrajudicial arrest and detention of suspects.

The bill also poses mortal danger to the principles of freedom of the press and of expression in Section 9 defining the crime of “inciting to terrorism,” which can be committed “by means of speeches, proclamations, writings, emblems, banners or other representations of the same” and is punishable by 12 years in prison.

This provision is, however, prone to broad application much like this and previous administrations have used the existing offenses of inciting to sedition and rebellion to quell free speech and intimidate critics.
In effect, reportage on persons and groups deemed terrorist, or even merely repeating what they say, could be interpreted as committing inciting to terrorism.

While we all agree that the fight against terrorism is important and needs the participation and cooperation of everyone, we maintain that the proposed law is open to abuse by despotic governments to visit terror against critics and the people in general.

If a law to fight terrorism is to be contemplated, let the respect and defense of human rights be the paramount consideration. #

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Initiated by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, this joint statement is being signed by thousands of individuals and organizations.

Reporting the people’s demands is not a crime

Altermidya.net

Information is of utmost importance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Reporting the people’s grievances and demands is the solemn duty of the media; it is not a crime.

The Guimba municipal council’s Sangguniang Bayan Resolution No. 52 s.2020 last May 11 empowered the mayor of the Nueva Ecija town to file criminal charges against radio network Radyo Natin Guimba (RNG) for alleged violations of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act of 2020 (Republic Act 11469) by reporting the complaints of residents over the implementation of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP).

Prior to the resolution, RNG reported that a municipal councilor and son of the incumbent mayor confiscated RNG field reporter Lina Villaflor’s media identification cards issued by the Presidential Communications and Operations Office.

Earlier, on April 22, the mayor had written the station requesting a copy of the radio broadcast aired that day, stating that the “false and malicious” statements made by the commentator could be a basis for his legal action against the station.

This is a form of censorship meant to intimidate the media into either silence or reporting eventually and issues in a manner acceptable to local government officials.

Subsequent direct attacks against the station have been reported, among them the barring of RNG reporters from covering the sessions of the Guimba Sangguniang Bayan. On May 19, the local police again barred an RNG reporter from covering the distribution of rice seeds to farmers.

All these are in violation of press freedom, and were apparently in response to RNG’s reports on the problematic implementation by the Guimba local government of the SAP.

RNG reported that several residents had trooped to their station to air complaints on the “selective” manner in which the cash aid is being distributed—that the municipality and its barangay officials were prioritizing rich farmers over small tillers.

RNG also reported that the local police have prevented them from taking photos and videos of people who trooped to the municipal hall to complain about the SAP implementation.

As much as it is the constitutional right of the people to air their grievances, it is also the constitutional right – and the primordial duty – of the press to report on these issues.

Local government executives should keep in mind that that the current national emergency does not empower officials to silence dissent and curtail press freedom, both of which are essential to a functional democracy in which elected officials are duty-bound to defend the Constitution.

Statement condemning NTF-ELCAC’s black propaganda against ABS-CBN and Maria Ressa

10 May 2020

We, media groups, news outfits, journalists, and academics, condemn the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) for a black propaganda offensive on social media against ABS-CBN and Rappler CEO Maria Ressa.

These Facebook posts, while they have been taken down, are a brazenly criminal abuse of authority on the part of the NTF-ELCAC, replete with half-truths and outright lies that willfully endanger Maria and the management and personnel of the network that government shut down.

The only reason we can think of why a government entity tasked to combat the communist insurgency would wage a propaganda offensive against media persons and outfits is if government now considers us the enemy.

In fact, Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade, NTF-ELCAC spokesman and Southern Luzon Command chief, indicated as much. In a May 8 Philippine News Agency report, while insisting that press freedom was alive in this country, also warned critics of the ABS-CBN shutdown: “Yes to law and order! Otherwise you might just get the martial law that you deserve.”

Worse, the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) aided in the slander by sharing these posts on its own page, although it later took these down, apparently after generating backlash from netizens.

While Communications Secretary Martin Andanar issued a statement saying the NTF-ELCAC posts were shared “without the usual vetting process of our office” and were “not in any way an official statement or an opinion of the PCOO,” neither did he apologize for his agency’s involvement nor even promise an investigation to identify those responsible for this reprehensibly irresponsible action.

We demand that government, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), immediately mount an investigation into who in the NTF-ELCAC were responsible for ordering and creating the slanderous posts and why.

At a time when our people are battling a deadly pandemic, it is extremely unacceptable that there are those in government who are making media repression, not saving lives, as the priority. #

(Signed by hundreds of organizations and individuals as of May 12, 2020. For a full list, click this link.)

#NoDeadAir: Resist all assaults on freedom of the press and expression

By THE NATIONAL UNION OF JOURNALISTS OF THE PHILIPPINES

May 4, 2020

This is the kind of government we have.

Even as our people battle a deadly pandemic, it carries out an underhanded assault on freedom of the press and of expression through a cease and desist order issued by the National Telecommunications Commission against broadcast network ABS-CBN.

That this dastardly move comes two days after we observed World Press Freedom Day and a day after Jose Calida warned the NTC of graft charges should it allow the network to operate beyond the expiration of its franchise on May 4.

All this stems from President Rodrigo Duterte’s personal vendetta against the network, whose franchise renewal he pledged to block.

No matter that this is a slap on Congress, which has the sovereign power to decide on matters of franchise and which explicitly asked the NTC to allow ABS-CBN to continue operating while it deliberates the bills to renew the network’s franchise.

No matter that the closure of a major media network would deprive our people of a major source of information at a time when information could spell life and death as we battle the pandemic.

It sends a clear message: What Duterte wants, Duterte gets. And it is clear, with this brazen move to shut down ABS-CBN, that he intends to silence the critical media and intimidate everyone else into submission.

But just as the independent press survived and triumphed with the people over the Marcos dictatorship, we are certain that we shall do so again, that this regime that has run roughshod over our laws and disregarded our basic rights and liberties will not succeed.

We call on the community of independent Filipino journalists and on all Filipinos who cherish democracy and liberty to stand together and resist this government’s brazen assault on freedom of the press and of expression.

MABUHAY AND MALAYANG PAMAMAHAYAG!

National Directorate