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We will not be cowed nor silenced

Today, we take pride in announcing that we have earned a position among the online media outfits targeted for shutdown for reporting critically and siding with the truth. Our digital security partner confirmed on April 28 that www.nordis.net, the web-based platform of Northern Dispatch, is the subject of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack.

So intense is the attack that even after our web host provider, Host Color, removed the resource limit of our account, our site failed to accommodate the traffic. The millions of requests that flooded the site overloaded and crashed the server. To date, our website has been down for two days. Before this, access has been intermittent since April 17.

This latest attack against Northern Dispatch, while highly condemnable, also means that we are performing our job well. We live up to our principle and tradition of amplifying the voice of the poor and marginalized. By doing so, we made enemies of dark forces that spread lies and narratives against the poor and their struggles.

It is important to note that this cyber-assault came amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In a period when critical reporting on the actual situation is urgent and essential. When people need to know how the government is responding to the health crisis and the severe socio-economic problems it spawned. Our foes initiated the attack at a time when rights protected under the Constitution are brazenly violated on unprecedented scales under the pretext of a public health emergency.

The attack came after months of intensified red-tagging of our outfit and staff by the military and its army of online trolls and minions. Since last year, the vilification and intimidation of our correspondents from Cagayan Valley (Deo Montesclaros) and Ilocos (Paola Espiritu) by state agents intensified. Also last year, suspected military assets shot and critically wounded Brandon Lee, our provincial correspondent from Ifugao. Last January, the Baguio City Police also tagged our Managing Editor Sherwin De Vera as a Communist Front Organization personality.

Just this April, online trolls circulated images on Facebook tagging Northern Dispatch as the propaganda arm of the New People’s Army. The same troll accounts posted photos of De Vera and Espiritu on the same online platform, accusing them as recruiters for the communist rebels.

The DDoS attack may not be as deadly as those that came before, but the message is the same, loud and clear – they want to silence the critical media. Those who benefit from this exploitative and repressive status quo want our stories to stop.

As we face the challenge of reporting amid this pandemic, the brutal attack against our ranks and this high-tech battering against our information portal, we send the following message:

To our readers, fear not. Our allies in the fight for freedom of the press and expression are helping us to bring our website back. In case this battle drags on, don’t despair. Our commitment remains. We will continue to bring you information and critical insights on issues and events in Northern Luzon in other ways.

To the people, especially the poor and oppressed, rest assured that we will uphold our task to amplify your plight and struggles.

To our colleagues in the media, join us, not only to keep the line taut but also to fight back and move forward.

To the enemies of press freedom and the people’s right to know, threaten us all you want, but we will not be cowed nor silenced. Payt latta! #