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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. #

OVERCOME CYBER-MARTIAL LAW

POOLED EDITORIAL

People’s Alternative Media Network (Altermidya)

12 March 2019

March 12 is World Day against Cyber Censorship, when advocates around the globe will call for an Internet that is not only accessible to all, but also free from restrictions on free speech. It is specially relevant to us today, when our nation is practically under cyber martial law and another tyranny.

The Duterte regime is using every means to silence dissent, criticism and free expression: from threats, incarceration to killings, to cyber warfare. The main target of this latest assault are the alternative media that mostly via online disseminate reports and views on events and issues that are rarely covered, if at all, by the dominant media. The goal is to deny a public hungry for information the reports and stories that it needs to understand what is happening in a country besieged by lies and disinformation.

The distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) against the websites of Bulatlat, Kodao Productions, Pinoy Weekly, and Altermidya began in December and have not stopped since. DDoS is a malicious form of cyber-attack that aims to overload a website and make it inaccessible.

The websites of Arkibong Bayan, Manila Today and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) have also been attacked, and so have the websites of human rights group Karapatan, Arkibong Bayan, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and lately, Ibon Foundation.

Qurium, the Sweden-based media foundation assisting Bulatlat, Altermidya, Karapatan and Pinoy Weekly, has established that the same techniques and botnets are being used against these websites. An independent review of Kodao Productions’ traffic logs also revealed the same attack signatures.  Quirium noted that it has not seen the same scale of DDoS attacks in any other country.

The details of the attacks have been reported to the National Computer Emergency Response Team (NCERT) of the Department of Information and Communications Technology. But the agency has remained alarmingly silent on the issue.

We have every reason to believe that these attacks are state-sponsored. In the past two years, cyber warfare has taken the form of vilification and redbaiting of progressive leaders and organizations through social media.

The Duterte administration identifies “strategic communication” as one of the pillars of its “whole of nation” approach against dissent and criticism, in which the regime’s counterinsurgency program will infiltrate and target social media and rid cyberspace of  “communist propaganda.”

The cyber attacks are part and parcel of the ongoing assault by the administration on the media. From threatening to revoke the franchises of big media companies to the attempt at the incarceration of Rappler executive Maria Ressa, to the killing of community journalists in the past months, the Duterte administration will stop at nothing to silence the Fourth Estate and its critics.

But Duterte and his keyboard and old-media army of mercenaries are hell-bent not only in silencing their perceived enemies, but also in expanding the echo chambers they maintain to create the illusion of continued support. On one hand, they attack news websites and journalists in all possible ways. On the other, they maintain a horde of fake supporters, employing what is known as “astroturfing” or the practice of creating the illusion of mass support by employing bots and trolls.

The alternative media have consistently upheld journalism for the people and given voice to the marginalized and the oppressed. Because of the political and economic interests of the corporate media, it is the alternative media that are discharging the democratic imperative of providing the information Filipinos need in this hour of national peril.  

We enjoin everyone from all walks of life to unite against, to expose, and to work together in stopping the attacks against all media. We should exhaust all means to make those responsible accountable for their foul deeds.  There are many technical and legal remedies that can and must be pursued to combat and halt the unabated DDoS attacks, including mirroring target websites to keep them online.

To defend press freedom is to defend the people’s right to know. As our fellow journalists and advocates continue to expose the truths on the attacks on indigenous communities, workers, farmers, and other groups, we ask all freedom-loving Filipinos to stand with us. Only through the strength and power of our unity can we defeat these brazen attempts at silencing protest and suppressing the truth.

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2443783208966707&id=216155061729544

NUJP-Batangas slams PNP’s policy on no media access to spot reports

By Lottie Salarda / NUJP Media Safety Office

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines-Batangas Chapter slammed a new Philippine National Police (PNP) Regional Office IV-A policy disallowing members of the local media to access spot police reports “unless a clearance is secured from its national headquarters.”

The policy has been enforced since June 19, 2018, the local media group said.

NUJP Batangas said they were notified through the official email address of Batangas PNP.

Marlon Luistro, GMA Network’s stringer in Batangas said he was informed by Batangas PNP PIO Police Senior Inspector Hazel Luma-ang Suarez that the prohibition is in accordance with existing national policy.

 “Lahat ng police stations (ng Batangas), ayaw magbigay ng police report. Itinuturo lahat sa PIO nila. Hindi nagbibigay ng information ang Chiefs of Police nila. Nagtataka kami bakit hindi nila binibigay iyon. Yung ibinibigay lang nila ay yung mga press release ng mga accomplishments nila,” Luistro said.

“Sa bago nilang policy hindi na namin naibabalita ang ibang nangyayari, katulad ng stabbing, shooting incident at iba pa,” Luistro added.

Luistro learned, however, that there is no such policy in place in other provinces.

Batangas journalists wrote to Chief PNP Police Director General Oscar Albayalde last September 24 to seek clarification but have yet to receive a reply.

They have also requested a dialogue with Albayalde as well as Batangas and Calabarzon police directors.

Upon learning of their letter to the Chief PNP, PSI Suarez called Luistro on his cellphone asking why Luistro’s group brought the issue before the office of the Chief PNP.

Luistro told Suarez that they only wanted clarification on the new policy from Albayalde himself. #

NUJP condemns jailing of Myanmar journalists

September 4, 2018

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines condemns the sentencing of our Myanmar colleagues Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo of the Reuters news agency to seven years in jail under that country’s Official Secrets Act.

Myanmar has effectively outlawed freedom of the press and belied all its claims of democratization.

The only way for Myanmar to rectify this grievous injustice is to free our colleagues and pledge to respect and uphold freedom of the press.

We extend our sympathy to the families of the two and declare our support for colleagues in Myanmar.

At the same time, we note that the jailing of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo is not an isolated incident but part of the worsening trend of media repression in Southeast Asia as governments seek to control the free flow of information and the public discourse.

We call on journalists throughout the region to close ranks and vigorously oppose all efforts to muzzle us and prevent us from serving our peoples’ sacred right to know.

NUJP Directorate

Media groups reject media regulation

Media groups reject a proposal to regulate mass media through a so-called Magna Carta for journalists, as announced by a Malacañan official Friday.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) and the Philippine Press Institute (PPI) rejected outright the proposal of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) to regulate the profession “in the guise of a “Magna Carta.”

In reaction to a speech by PTFoMS executive director Joel Egco in Baguio City Friday, the groups said it was not the first time that such a measure is being proposed, which they have consistently opposed.

SunStar-Baguio reported Egco as saying the proposed measure would seek to professionalize journalism through qualifying and classifying exams.

“If you want to become a media personality, you will have to take an exam every six months to assess your qualification which would set either a managerial position or a corresponding salary level or grade equivalent to that of government,” Egco was quoted as saying.

Egco was addressing Northern Luzon journalists who attended a seminar on media safety protocols developed by the PTFoMS in light of the continuing threats against media workers.

He said that professionalizing the ranks of journalists by classifying them into three levels would lessen threats against them.

“With the qualifying exam, journalists can now be qualified as a level 1, 2 or 3, and depending on the vacant position to be applied, they can now for example apply for a reportorial position which is level 2 while obtaining a level 1 qualification,” Egco said.

Saying that while it does not question Egco’s intent, the NUJP, however, said the proposed “Magna Carta,” which goes so far as to set salary grades depending on “competency,” is fraught with danger.

The group added that the proposal would allow the government to determine who can or cannot be a journalist, which is totally anathema to a profession that can thrive only in independence.

The CEGP for its part said the proposed Magna Carta is a misguided attempt by President Rodrigo Duterte’s “politically erratic regime, known for its pseudo-journalists, trolls, fake news and manipulation of public opinion.”

The student journalists said that the Duterte government is in no position to dictate on the media since its own “biases and sensibilities are geared towards the creation of state-sponsored fake news that dumb down the toiling masses.”

A Philippine Press Institute officer, meanwhile, said on a social media post that their group has already rejected the so-called Magna Carta a long time ago.

“’Levelling’ has nothing to do with quality of journalism. We should [instead] care for the following: welfare and protection, ethical practice, and truth-telling,” PPI executive director Ariel Sabellino said.

The NUJP added it cannot allow government the opportunity to meddle in any way in the profession and urged journalists as well as media owners to unite in opposing what it called a clear threat to freedom of the press and of expression. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Former UP dean launches workshop on ethical reporting

By April Burcer

“One of the most common flaws of Philippine media is lack of context in reporting,” former dean of the College of Mass Communications in UP Diliman Luis Teodoro pointed out during his workshop on journalism ethics yesterday.

Organized by the People’s Alternative Media Network (Altermidya), the workshop aimed to remind young media practitioners about the importance of adhering to ethical standards when reporting and to discuss the common ethical problems in the Philippine press.

Lack of context, according to Teodoro, is both a professional and ethical failing because people can’t make sense of what the story is all about.

He cited conflict reporting as an example, particularly the Marawi siege and the 2001 military campaign against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MNLF).

“During the Marawi siege, 90 percent of the coverage was in the conduct of the war. There is hardly any context. Same with the 2001 military attacks which the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) analyzed, showing that out of 6000 articles, only seven provided context,” Teodoro said.

Social issues and the Philippine Press

Teodoro criticized the Philippine media for failing to provide context on the social issues they are covering, including poverty, contractualization, unemployment, and President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive against so-called loiterers.

“The most crucial thing about the Filipino society is its poverty. There are 22 million Filipinos in extreme want and 50 million others who are vulnerable to the vicissitudes of living in the Philippines. Much of the reporting has to be about poverty and its related consequences and implications,” the former dean said.

He also said that not all ‘tambays’ (loiterers) are lazy or criminals, and that most of them are victims of labor only contractualization, poverty and poor housing conditions.

“The media have to be reporting all of these. Are they reporting these? Are they doing a good job of reporting these?” he asked.

He also noted that the social issues are given more exposure in social media than in the Philippine media.

Ethical Problems in the Philippine Press

According to Teodoro, being accurate is very important, especially today in the era of alternative truth and fake news, saying “false information can be very dangerous.”

He also emphasized the importance of adhering to the rules of journalism at a time when ordinary citizens and non-journalists can practice journalistic work.

“The press has the capacity to help transform society. It can do this by being true to the ethical standards that for many years have been established,” Teodoro advised.

Teodoro, Altermidya chairperson, is a retired Journalism professor in UP College of Mass Communication, a noted author and resource speaker on journalism ethics, media education and other media issues for various workshops, seminars and conferences in the Philippines and abroad. #

NUJP slams Dureza for ‘irresponsbile journalism’ remark

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) slammed presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza for his “irresponsible journalism” accusation against several news outfits, adding the official owes journalists an apology.

In a statement Tuesday, June 19, the NUJP said Dureza is too quick to hurl accusations of irresponsible journalism against news outfits that reported that Norway would no longer be the third-party facilitator for peace talks between the government and communist rebels.

In a Facebook post, Dureza stated Monday the media report saying Norway is being removed or is no longer “facilitator” in the peace negotiations between the philippine government and the communist rebels is a total fabrication.

“It is an example of irresponsible journalism,” Dureza added.

The NUJP, however, did not take Dureza’s statement sitting down, saying he should have checked presidential spokesperson Harry Roque’s claim against the record

“[Dureza], at the very least, should be aware that the source of the story, presidential spokesman Harry Roque, has built a reputation for prevarication within an administration that has time and again proven itself to be the prime purveyor of falsehood and, in fact, has welcomed experts of this dark craft into the bureaucracy.”

NUJP pointed out that during the question and answer portion of Roque’s press briefing at Malacañan Monday morning, CNN Philippines’ Ina Andolong asked whether President Rodrigo Duterte wanted the talks held in the country “and not be facilitated by Norway” and what the formal process for transferring the venue might be.

NUJP said Roque did not give an unequivocal reply to these questions, prompting Andolong to ask further: “Who will be facilitating the talks here then?”

Wala na po siguro, nandito na naman tayo sa Pilipinas,” Roque replied, adding President Rordrigo Duterte could not understand why the peace negotiations have to be held abroad. (Perhaps there would no longer be one, as we are here in the Philippines already.)

That “Perhaps there would no longer be one” is what many news outfits reported, NUJP said.

The NUJP said that while Dureza had reason enough to worry about the reports, the fault lay not with media but with the government’s all too often muddled communications, particularly Roque who eventually tried to weasel his way out of a bad situation by claiming, in a subsequent statement, that he had only talked about Duterte’s wish for the talks to be held in the country.

In a subsequent statement, Roque said that he hopes the record is set straight that what he said was that any peace negotiation that would be entered into by the Philippine government and the NDFP should be held inside the country, referring to the venue of the talks.

But the NUJP said that records are clear that Roque is, “at best, cherry picking through his words, at worst, brazenly twisting the truth.”

“Which seems par for the course as far as this administration goes,” NUJP added.

NUJP said Dureza, himself a former reporter, owes the journalists he wrongly accused an apology.

“And while, truth to tell, we do not expect one, we would love to be surprised,” the group added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NUJP, AIJC launch books on journalism

By April Burce

“Are we really a democracy when we kill journalists?” asked National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) chairperson Nonoy Espina as he welcomed partners and guests to the launch of two journalism books “Defending Journalism” and the “Impact of the Reporting of the Mamasapano Incident on the Peace Process” in the Philippines in Quezon City Wednesday.

“These are trying times because we have already lost 11, which according to our records, is the worst ever in the first two years of any president,” Espina said, referring to the number of journalists killed under the Rodrigo Duterte presidency.

“We are afraid it might get worse before it gets better,” he added.

The first book, “Defending Journalism”, is a comparative analysis of how national mechanisms can protect journalists and address the issue of impunity in seven countries.

“Impact of Reporting of the Mamasapano Incident on the Peace Process in the Philippines,” is a review of how the Philippine mass media affected the national discourse after the incident that plunged former President Benigno Aquino to unprecedented lows during the last years of his term.

The books are a collaboration of the NUJP and the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication with support from International Media Support (IMS).

In their messages, Lidasan and Ocampo stressed the importance of providing context in the reportage of vital issues, including conflict and human rights.

Journalist Satur Ocampo said, “the coverage of the investigations on countries with experiences of killings of journalists are mostly characterized by long-term social, economic, political and military conflicts. There’s always a connection between the way a state deals with armed conflicts and coverage of armed conflicts and how governments regarded journalists in accordance with the content of what they write.”

Commission on Human Rights chairperson Chito Gascon lauded journalists as human rights defenders, saying freedom of expression and freedom to information are non-derogable rights and cannot be exempted, excused or set aside even in cases of national emergency.

“That is how fundamental these rights are. And our journalists are at the forefront of upholding these rights. Unfortunately, these reports and our experience and history will show that there remains much to be done,” Gascon said.

Gascon pledged the CHR’s support for the campaign to defend freedom of the press and of expression, and to keep journalists safe in a country long described as one of the deadliest places for the profession.

IMS’s Lars Bestle pointed out that the launching of the books is crucial because freedom of expression is under threat in the Philippines.

In his message, IMS’s Lars Bestle pointed out that the launching of the books is crucial because freedom of expression is under threat in the Philippines.

Bestle added that a journalist is killed every five days around the world.

“Our key finding is that all media stakeholders –from government to media, police, and civil society—have to take responsibility and work together to ensure the media’s ability to report freely, safely and accurately without fear of retribution,” he added.

AIJC President Ramon Tuazon said that “Defending Journalism” is not just a book title but a constant reminder to continuously protect freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

“We often encounter publications that examine, ad infinitum, the root causes of impunity in the killing of journalists. ‘Defending Journalism’ provides a fresh approach by choosing to highlight what various stakeholders have successfully done and can do to address the issue and not to be hostaged by the problem,” Tuazon said.

The event was participated in by representatives from major journalism and news organizations including NUJP, IMS, AIJC, UNESCO, Philippine Press Institute (PPI), Center for Community Journalism and Development, Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, Moro-Christian People’s Alliance, as well as representatives from the Royal Danish Embassy, and Sri Lankan ambassador to the Philippines Aruni Ranaraja. #

Groups denounce yet another media killing, 11th under Duterte

Media groups denounced the murder of yet another journalist Thursday afternoon, the 11th victim of media killing under Rodrigo Duterte’s government.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), the NUJP Davao Chapter, and the Davao del Norte Press and Radio-TV Club (DNPRC) denounced the killing of Dennis Denora, publisher of the community newspaper Trends and Times and correspondent of Sun Star Davao in Panabo City, Davao del Norte.

“Denora is the 11th journalist killed in the less than two years since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office and the 184th since 1986,” the NUJP said.

The victim was shot by an unidentified gunman who fled on foot after the shooting, Panabo City Police reported.

Denora, 67, was seated in front of a sedan car that was cruising along the city’s national highway when shot.

He was killed on the spot.

The NUJP said that while there is still no official word on the possible motive for his murder, it was likely related to his work as a journalist.

“Denora’s colleagues in the province acknowledge that he was ‘fearless’ in his commentaries in broadcast and print,” the group added.

The NUJP Davao Chapter said Denora’s death is a clear assault to press freedom, and amplifies the existing climate of fear among journalists who are working in their local communities.

“His death underscores the worsening state of media killings in the country. With this, we want the government to take concrete actions to stop these senseless killings by speedily resolving these cases and bring people who attack journalists [to justice],” NUJP Davao said.

In a separate statement, the DNPRC said Denora, also an officer and member of the Davao Region Multi-Media group (DRMMG), was known for his fearless commentaries both in print and on radio.

“[Denora’s] death awakens the anger and pains of journalists who do their job and yet are being judged by the pistol,” the group said.

The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFOMS) for its part said its secretariat has already directed the Philippine National Police Task Force Usig to conduct a “deep investigation” on Denora’s killing.

Task Force Usig is a special police unit created to investigate media killings.

A Special Investigation Task Group will be formed to lead the local probe, PTFOMS said.

“Like in previous cases, whether related to work or not, it is our official policy to initially treat any violent incident involving media workers as ‘work related,’” PTFOMS executive director Joel Egco said.

“We will leave no stone unturned to serve the ends of justice. Make no mistake about it,” Egco said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

 

Marvia Malik, Pakistan’s First Transgender Newscaster, Wants to Change Societal Attitudes Toward Her Community

By Anas Saleem

Marvia Malik has made history in Pakistan’s media industry by purportedly becoming the country’s first transgender news anchor.

The 21-year-old from Lahore, who has a bachelor’s degree in journalism, applied to work at Kohenoor News, a private news channel. The chief executive officer of Kohenoor News, a private news channel, says Malik was hired on merit, and Malik made her on-air debut on 23 March. Read more