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Alert broadcaster thwarts ‘warrantless arrest’ attempts by soldiers

A former station manager of a Bukidnon radio station frustrated attempts by government soldiers to bring her to their military camp without a warrant.

Members of the 1st Special Forces Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines harassed former Radyo Lumad station manager Kristin Lim since Saturday, August 3, and even engaged village leaders to convince  her to give herself up, to no avail.

Soldiers on board a military truck arrived at Lim’s home in Damilag, Bukidnon at 8:30 Saturday night and “invited” her to their camp for “questioning.” They were led by a 1st Lieutenant Baquial.

Lim refused after Baquial failed to present a warrant of arrest or a “valid and clear reason,” the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines in Northern Mindanao Region (RMP-NMR) said in an alert.

The troopers, however, were back early Sunday morning, insisting that Lim surrender herself.

The RMP-NMR said the soldiers were using the same tactic they used in the so-called capture of civilians Gloria Jandayan and Gleceria Balangiao who were later presented by the battalion as fake New People’s Army surrenderees.

The soldiers later asked members of barangays council to help convince Lim to be “summoned” to the military camp because of “her knowledge of the Left.”

Lim still refused, the RMP-NMR reported, agreeing to a dialogue only in the presence of a legal counsel.

RMP-NMR added that Barangay chairperson Jun Torres eventually agreed with Lim and in turn told the soldiers that they can summon her at the village hall as long as her safety is assured.

Other members of the council and the homeowners’ association also demanded that soldiers stop visiting their village on board military trucks as “the soldiers make it look like they are pursuing a dangerous criminal or terrorist.”

Red-tagged

Lim was hired as Radyo Lumad station manager in July 2018 until its temporary closure in January this year “due to threats and harassments.”

Radyo Lumad was located in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, a community radio station focused on reporting on indigenous peoples’ rights and welfare.

The radio station was part of RMP-NMR’s Healing the Hurt Project with the European Union and the World Association for Christian Communication.

(Disclosure: Kodao Productions was hired as training partner of the Radyo Lumad Project.)

Lim said the radio station decided to temporarily close due to persistent threats and harassments against its staff.

Earlier this year, Lim was among those red-tagged in flyers distributed in Cagayan de Oro City along with lawyers, journalists, church workers, indigenous peoples’ leaders and activists. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Freedom of expression in the time of Duterte

Over three years ago, the nation has been promised: change is coming. And change did come, but things took a turn for the worse.

As the nation marks President Rodrigo Duterte’s third year in power, we look back in sheer dismay over the unprecedented attacks perpetrated primarily by the state, with the apparent goal of shrinking the space for free expression in the country.

Once Duterte assumed the presidency in June 2016, the dome of impunity has widened and enveloped practically the whole of the archipelago. What was once considered rare and infrequent news on police-instigated killings, massacres, and haranguing of communities speedily became frequent staples in the news. Aside from the drug war, dozens of massacres, killings, and arbitrary arrests have been committed at a rate only comparable to the dark years of the Marcos era. With the rampant human rights violations, wittingly or unwittingly, the victims have become mere statistics, losing their names and identities to the dark powers-that-be.

Even freedom of expression is in peril. Merely voicing out concern and reporting on the aggravating human rights situation in the country puts one at risk. The attacks were sustained and targeted all fronts: from the red-tagging of activists and organizations, to the harassment and even killing of journalists. The string of cases against Rappler, for instance, shows how this administration wields its entire machinery to hide the truth in its bloody “war on drugs.” Based on the report released by the Freedom for Media, Freedom for All Network, from June 30, 2016 to April 30, 2019, a total of 128 cases of threats and attacks against the media have been documented, 60 of which were directly perpetrated by state agents. These incidents range from intimidation, including red-tagging, visits by police teams to the offices of media agencies, to the association of independent media organizations to supposed ouster plots.

No one was spared – from incarcerating vocal critic Sen. Leila de Lima, to attacking the church and even international organizations, Duterte stopped at nothing to make his perceived enemies fall, mincing no words, except in certain instances, like in issues concerning China. Remember how the state practically booted out Sister Patricia Fox, an Australian nun who have worked for decades among the poor and the marginalized just for voicing out her concerns and joining a fact-finding mission? And what about the perjury charges filed by the military against human rights defenders from Karapatan, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines and Gabriela?

Remember how, just recently, veteran journalist Margarita Valle has been nabbed for unknown reasons, only to be released eventually, with the state saying it was just a case of mistaken identity?

Even artists are being criminalized. Two artists — Alvin Fortaliza of Bohol, and Clydie Sabate of Negros Occidental, have been arrested and detained on trumped-up charges. And who could not forget the military’s red tagging of filmmakers who produced socially relevant works?

The attacks were unrelenting. From the “Red October” plot to the egregious “Oust Duterte matrix,” clearly the administration is not on a “wait and see” mode but rather on an active frenzy. Recently, the police filed sedition, cyber libel and other criminal charges against Vice President Leni Robredo and 35 other individuals, including lawyers and Church people, over the Bikoy narcotics video series. Their goal: mass intimidation. They are deploying all weapons in their arsenal to police even the opinions of the public: from the employment of a massive “troll army” and other forms of astroturfing or the attempt to bloat supposed public support for policies, resulting in an era where genuine reports and fake news are difficult to tell apart; the ramped-up surveillance of perceived critics of the administration; to imposing martial law in Mindanao, and similar thinly-veiled military efforts in provinces in Visayas and Luzon.

Even the Internet is no longer a safe space. Remember how easy it was for state agents to relentlessly conduct “distributed denial of service” or DDoS attacks against the alternative media, shutting down their websites at critical moments when reports on attacks against the marginalized and underrepresented were published. International observers dub these attacks as one of the worst cyber-attacks they have seen across the globe in recent history.

The Duterte administration has even tapped draconian laws such as the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 to file cases such as cyberlibel against its critics. With Duterte allies now controlling both houses of Congress, soon, the reviled Human Security Act is also set to be amended to give stronger powers to state agents to tag practically anyone and everyone as terrorists, with little to no effort.

Most of these schemes and turn of events aimed at mass intimidation employ the same tactic: preemptive vilification – discrediting those who dare critique policies, pronouncements, and actions of the government even before these critics open their mouths or type their statements. In a nutshell, the last three years drastically shrunk the space for free expression.

Just as state agents are not sparing any moment to practically trample on any and every form of dissent, we must also not wait as our basic civil liberties are being pressed for space. At this juncture, we must realize the importance of the freedom of expression: losing this right opens the floodgates to the violation of other civil, political, and economic rights. Freedom of expression serves as a safeguard for the people to enjoy other freedoms. Without free expression, we can lose all our other important rights in an instant.

It is easy to allow fear to set in and shut our lips and eyes to the worsening state of our nation. But once we do that, will it alleviate the situation? No, it will only continue festering.

To allow the state and its agents to pillage on the right to free expression is tantamount to surrendering hard-earned victories of our people in the past decades. We cannot simply allow the looming shadow of dictatorship to easily slip back. We must decisively unite and fight back.

We need to reclaim the real meaning of change, of how that potent word opens a world of possibilities. Despite the relentless attacks on our basic civil liberties, we need to remember that real change is a force that makes us question everything. Change is what we aspire when we innovate, when we invent, when we create. Change sparks genius, and ignites the fire that seeks to melt and recast the status quo.

To change is to reaffirm the value of militancy, of seeing the potency of collective action. Genuine change requires united action. From artists to journalists to the common people, we need all the force we can muster to fight back. There is no moment to spare. We need to reclaim every inch of space for our civil rights. We need to fight back now. #

Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity (LODI)

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines

Concerned Artists of the Philippines

Altermidya

Update on the DDoS defense of alternative media outfits

Respondents Suniway and IP Converge, in their respective answers filed in court, deny any knowledge in the cyberattacks launched against us. Both absolve themselves of any accountability to the three-month long distributed denial of service attacks despite the fact that their infrastructure were used in these attacks.

How could one then explain that after the filing of civil case against these companies, the cyberattacks stopped?

We also decry the counterclaim filed by both companies in the total amount of P6.5 million for allegedly besmirching their reputation. It’s clear that we, the plaintiffs, have no malice and only state, as a matter of fact, the results of forensic investigation done by Qurium identifying them as sources of DDoS attacks.

The filing of counterclaim is an act of harassment against non-profit media outfits and meant to intimidate us. We are not backing down.

Altermidya

Bulatlat

Kodao

Pinoy Weekly

Gunmen kill Kidapawan broadcaster

A broadcaster was shot dead late Wednesday night, July 10, as he was driving home after his regular radio program in Kidapawan City in Mindanao.

Eduardo Dizon of Brigada News FM was waylaid by two men reportedly riding in tandem on a motorcycle.

The victim managed to drive on for some distance but died immediately after, reports said.

He suffered five gunshot wounds on his torso.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemned Dizon’s murder and said he may be the 13th journalist killed under the Rodrigo Duterte government and 186th since 1986.

The NUJP said Dizon’s murder was likely related to his work as a broadcaster.

“We have confirmed that a few days before his death, he had filed a report with the Kidapawan police after he received a challenge to a ‘duel’ and his station’s hotline received a text message from mobile number 09353435064 that said: ‘Bantay mo Brigada mamatay unya mo bantay2 mo kay naa mupusil ninyo,’ the NUJP said in its statement today. (Watch out Brigada because you will die, just wait someone will shoot you.)

Kodao sources said that Dizon had been critical of the alleged Kapa Worldwide Ministry Ponzi scheme that Duterte ordered stopped.

The NUJP said Dizon’s murder again underscores how the overwhelming failure of government to ensure justice for violent crime can only invite even more bloodshed by perpetrators emboldened by the certainty that they can literally get away with murder.

“We demand that authorities solve Dizon’s murder and ensure the perpetrators are caught and successfully prosecuted,” the NUJP said.

The group said it demands that government do its duty and end the culture of impunity that continues to embolden those for whom violence is the preferred means to resolve disputes. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Relentless red-tagging in Cagayan de Oro ‘scary and dangerous’

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) called on those behind the relentless red-tagging of human rights, media, church and lawyers’ organizations in Cagayan de Oro City to stop their activities as it “endangers lives.”

For the eighth time since February, the NUJP and other organizations and personalities were again listed in posters, this time plastered on the walls of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) church in Cagayan de Oro’s Barangay Agusan Sunday.

A poster red-tagging the NUJP and the NUPL found plastered on the wall of a church in Cagayan de Oro last Sunday. (NUJP photo)

Along with the NUJP, the Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao-National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, the IFI, the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines and others were listed as so-called fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

The posters were signed by a shadowy group calling itself the Movement Against Terrorism-Northern Mindanao Region.

“The NUJP Cagayan de Oro City Chapter condemns this act, an act clearly meant to intimidate and silence a critical press,” the group’s statement, signed by its chapter president Pamela Jay Orias and NUJP Western Mindanao media safety officer JB Deveza, said Monday.

While denying it is a front for any organization, the NUJP said it will also not stand idly by while the truth is under persistent attack.

“[The NUJP] will not cower while the freedom of the press and the people’s right to truthful, accurate, and relevant information is under assault,” it said.

‘Scary’

Former NUJP director and Mindanao Gold Star Daily associate editor Cong Corrales said inclusion in the list is “scary, to say the least.”

Corrales is among the personalities listed by the posters and streamers that, at one time, had been displayed in his own village.

“[Mayroong] tarp din sinabit sa bridge facing Consolacion with the words may mga terrorist supporters dito sa [Barangay] Consolacion,” Corrales said.

A streamer red-tagging some residents of Barangay Consolacion in Cagayan de Oro. (Photo from Cong Corrales)

“Our Punong Barangay has already reported it to the police. Pero wala pa ring action,” he said.

Corrales said local officials should be asked to look into repeated red-tagging incidents in the city.

Corrales’ wife and son were, at one time, included in the list.

The veteran journalist has denied being a member of the underground groups.

“I feel they will not stop until one of us in the list is killed,” Corrales told Kodao.

The embattled journalist said he is taking safety precautions but believes the perpetrators know where he lives.

‘Not enemies of the state’

The NUJP said the people behind the red-tagging campaign must be reminded that a free press is guaranteed under the Philippine Constitution.

“Perhaps the people behind this despicable act need reminding that journalists are not enemies of the state. Perhaps the people behind these lies forget that journalists are just truth-tellers whose job serves the public interest,” the group added.

The group called on the perpetrators to stop the vilification campaign against the NUJP and against other rights organizations.

“Your lies endanger journalists; your lies put people’s lives at risk,” it said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

UP students, nagprotesta kontra suspensyon ng mga patnugot ng Rebel Kule

Nagsagawa ng isang kilos-protesta ang mga mag-aaral ng Universidad ng Pilipinas sa Diliman noong Hunyo 26 sa Quezon Hall kontra sa ipinataw na suspensyon sa mga patnugot ng Rebel Collegian.

Ayon sa mga estudyante, hindi katanggap-tanggap ang desisyon na iginawad ng University Council Executive Committee (EC) na suspensyon sa pitong mamamahayag pang-kampus.

Nauna nang ipinawalang-sala ang mga patnugot ng Student Disciplinary Council subalit binaligtad ito ng EC noong Hunyo 20.

Kinasuhan ang pitong patnugot ng fraud, disobedience and stealing nang sinasabing admin-installed editor in chief ng Philippine Collegian na si Jayson Edward San Juan matapos hindi i-turnover ang social media account ng Collegian, bagay na iginiit ng Rebel Kule na hindi ito pagmamay-ari kailanman ng publikasyon. (Bidyo ni: Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao)

The UP ‘Rebel Kule’ case: Flatlining free expression

Altermidya Network, the broad alliance of alternative media and community journalists groups in the Philippines, denounces the patently unreasonable manner in which the University of the Philippines Diliman’s Executive Committee (EC) ordered the suspension of the editorial board of the “Rebel Kule.”

The EC on June 21 overturned the earlier decision of the UP Diliman Student Disciplinary Council (SDC) to dismiss the charges of stealing, fraud, and disobedience filed by Philippine Collegian outgoing editor-in-chief Jayson Edward San Juan against the editors of Rebel Kule. The charges were based on allegations of misconduct in relation to the use of the Facebook and Twitter accounts that San Juan claimed were among the Collegian’s digital assets.

The EC – composed of the university’s deans and directors, the chancellor, vice chancellor, the university registrar, and other officials – released a two-page decision suspending the members of the Rebel Kule editorial board for one semester and five weeks, without even explaining why it has overturned the SDC’s earlier ruling, which said that San Juan’s accusations had “no sufficient basis.”

Among those to be suspended is incoming Philippine Collegian EIC Beatrice Puente, making her assumption of the position problematic. Also suspended are three graduating editors who were excluded from the graduation list this semester.

Rebel Kule has pointedly emphasized how due process was grossly set aside – both by the EC and the SDC – by not informing the respondents that San Juan appealed the SDC’s decision. Neither was the respondents given a copy of the appeal. Worse, the highest academic body in UP’s flagship campus made its decision with neither enough justification nor reason.

Not only is this move a dangerous precedent for campus publications throughout the country, it also undermines the University of the Philippines’ reputation as a bastion of free speech and expression by  imposing unwarranted penalties on students who dared continue the Philippine Collegian’s progressive tradition.

We have witnessed how, in times of turmoil, Rebel Kule persisted in reporting relevant issues that students and the UP community needed to know.

Is this how UP works now: haphazardly releasing decisions without the benefit of either logic or reason? Has the malady of oppression and repression besieging the nation now also adversely affected what was once a bastion of dissent?

The entire nation is besieged by the killing of journalists, the warrantless arrests against regime critics, and the harassments — and it seems that the country’s premier university has become just one more government institution similarly engaged in repression.

Just as we must hold accountable the UP Diliman administration and call for it to correct what we deem as a grave mistake, we must all unite in combating the darkness enveloping the nation. We cannot allow our civil liberties to flatline, and with it the country’s hopes for a true democracy. #

NUJP salutes CDO colleagues’ unity in defense of press freedom

28 May 2019

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines hails our colleagues in Cagayan de Oro for their show of unity against unrelenting efforts to suppress freedom of the press and of expression.

When unidentified persons draped a black streamer naming so-called communist rebel “front organizations” – including the NUJP – on the fence of Cagayan de Oro’s Press Freedom Monument at Vicente de Lara Park, it was clear that we were not the sole media group targeted by this red-tagging operation, something we have been subjected to since late last year.

That the incident happened on the first day of Cagayan de Oro’s celebration of Press Freedom Week, an annual event dear to the hearts of our colleagues in the City of Golden Friendship, indicates it was intended as a warning to all journalists to go easy on critical reportage and commentary.

The response of our colleagues from the different media organization in Cagayan de Oro was as swift as it was appropriate: they tore the streamer down and set it alight, while vowing to remain united and not be cowed by those seeking to suppress the full exercise of democratic rights.

At a time when the threats to the profession and our basic rights and liberties continue to worsen, unfortunately abetted by a contemptible few who have chosen to betray the profession of truth, the example set by the media of Cagayan de Oro is proof of what we have maintained all along, that the united community of independent Filipino journalists is capable of holding back the darkness that seeks to engulf us once again.

The NUJP National Directorate

ALERT: NUJP red-tagged as Cagayan de Oro media commemorates Press Freedom Week

27 May 2019

A streamer tagging the National Union Of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and other activist groups as allies of the ‘terrorist NPA’ was found draped at the foot of the monument honoring Press Freedom at the Provincial Capitol grounds in Cagayan de Oro.

The other groups similarly branded as ‘terrorists’ are the Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM), the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), the the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), the League of Filipino Students (LFS), the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP), and the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE).

The streamer was found by members of the Cagayan de Oro Press Club (CLUB) who gathered at the Press Freedom monument to launch the week-long commemoration of the 37th Press Freedom Week.

The streamer was later set ablaze following a 7am mass attended by members of the COPC.

Photo by Menzie Montes

“We condemn the red-tagging of the NUJP,”club member Uriel Quilinguing, a former president of the COPC as well as a former chairman of the NUJP-Cagayan de Oro Chapter, said.

Quilinguing said the COPC and other media groups in Cagayan de Oro City condemn what they called ‘baseless accusations’ against the NUJP.

Quilinguing called on the media to stay united in the face of threats which, he said is also the theme of Press Freedom Week.

Pamela Jay Orias, chairperson of the Cagayan de Oro Chapter of the NUJP, said a free press is a hallmark of a free and democratic society.

“A critical press serves the public interest and should therefore not be subjected to attacks,” Orias said.

No group has come out to claim responsibility for the red-tagging.

Reference:

JB R. Deveza
NUJP Safety Officer for western Mindanao

Despite the release of detained Reuters reporters, free speech remains under threat in Myanmar

By Mong Palatino/Global Voices

Media groups and human rights advocates are celebrating the release of Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo who spent more than 500 days in detention for their role in investigating the massacre of some Rohingya residents in northern Myanmar. But despite their release, the state of free speech in the country is still undermined by the continued detention and persecution of some artists, journalists, and activists. Consider the following cases:

Defamation case against The Irrawaddy

A defamation complaint was filed by the military’s Yangon Region Command against The Irrawaddy’s Burmese-language editor U Ye Ni over the news website’s alleged unfair coverage of the armed clashes between government forces and the insurgent Arakan Army in Rakhine State. The Irrawaddy said it did nothing but report the escalating armed clashes in the region since the start of 2019. Here is U Ye Ni’s response to the case filed by the military:

I feel sorry about the military’s misunderstanding of us. Journalism dictates that we reveal the suffering of people in a conflict area. Our intention behind the coverage is to push those concerned to solve the problems by understanding the sufferings of the people.

The Irrawaddy is a content partner of Global Voices.

Jailed for satire

Meanwhile, five members of the Peacock Generation Thangyat troupe were sent to Insein prison to await trial for their satirical performance mocking the army. Thangyat is performance art similar to slam poetry featuring folk verses with traditional musical notes and is combined with song, dance, and chants. The group was charged with violating article 505(a) of the penal code which criminalizes the circulation of statements, rumors, or reports with the intent to cause any military officer to disregard or fail in his duties.

Zeyar Lwin, one of the accused, said:

All of our cases are political issues so that they need to resolve them as political issues. And also, I’d like to say all of us need to join the work for amending the 2008 constitution being done in parliament. In my opinion all of these issues can be resolved if we can do the primary work of amending the constitution.

Zeyar Lwin is referring to the 2008 constitution which many analysts believe was designed to reinforce military rule even after the restoration of civilian leadership.

Sickly filmmaker in detention

The case of filmmaker Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi also reflects the restrictions imposed on critical artists. A complaint filed by a military officer against the filmmaker’s ‘defamatory’ Facebook posts led to his arrest. Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi is the founder of the Myanmar Human Rights Human Dignity Film Festival and a known critic of the military’s involvement in politics. His supporters are calling for his release on humanitarian grounds, since he has had half of his liver removed due to cancer and suffers from heart and kidney problems. The Human Rights Film Network, a partnership of 40 human rights film festivals around the world, sent this letter to the government:

As a concerned international human rights community, we seek reassurance from the Myanmar government to ensure that Section66(d), which was meant to enhance progress of telecommunications, will not be used to silence the voice of Myanmarese civilians seeking to voice their opinions and take part in the democratic process in Myanmar.

The letter refers to the controversial Section 66(d) defamation law which has been used by authorities to charge critics, activists, and journalists.

Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi’s petition for bail was rejected by a local court. His next hearing is scheduled for May 9, 2019.

‘They should never have been jailed in the first place.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were sentenced to seven years in prison for violating the colonial-era Official Secrets Act. The Supreme Court upheld their conviction last April with finality but they were released from prison after they were granted a presidential pardon during the country’s traditional New Year.

Groups like the Southeast Asian Press Alliance welcomed the release of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo but they also highlighted the injustice suffered by the two reporters:

They should never have been jailed in the first place, because they committed no crime.

While we welcome this positive development, the case of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo is proof that journalists are in constant risk of political reprisal for keeping power in check.

This article by Mong Palatino is from Global Voices, an international and multilingual news site, and is republished on Kodao Productions as part of a content-sharing agreement.