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ALERT: Journalist barred from covering Marawi residents’ returning to their homes

March 30, 2018

A journalist covering the return of Marawi folk to ground zero was barred from entering the war-torn city on Friday.

An unidentified officer of the 103rd Brigade of the Philippine Army (PA) barred Davao Today and Kilab Multimedia reporter Kath M. Cortez from covering the rally that marked the return of Marawi City residents to their homes.

While taking photos of the protesters at the PA-Philippine National Police blockade at the city’s Rapitan Bridge, the officer saw Cortez’s media ID and reportedly shouted: “’Uy, taga-Davao. Kumpiskahin ang ID! Kumpiskahin ang camera! Palabasin ‘yan ng Marawi!”

(Hey, she’s from Davao! Confiscate her ID! Confiscate her camera! Get her out of Marawi!)

Before soldiers could carry out the order, Cortez had safely retreated at the back of rally where she was joined by fellow journalists from Davao City.

While covering the rally’s program, which was about to end, a military again approached and told her to get out of the city.

Cortez and her fellow journalists from Davao have safely gotten out of the city as of posting time.

–NUJP Media Safety Office

‘Actors can enter Marawi, why can’t we?’ residents ask Army, Police

About a thousand displaced residents of Marawi City were prevented from visiting the so-called ground zero Friday by combined elements of the city police and 3rd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army.

Wanting to hold a M’balingan (Meranaw for “coming home”) and Jumaat (Friday Congretional Prayer), the residents wanted to march from the city center to the most devastated parts of Marawi but were blocked by security forces at the foot of Pumping Bridge at about nine o’clock in the morning.

“We just want to visit the destroyed homes and hold a prayer event. Why are they still preventing us?” Tindeg Ranao national coordinator Aida Ibrahim told Kodao.

Police and army personnel blocking displaced Marawi residents who want to hold a prayer event inside the city’s so-called ground zero. (Kilab Multimedia photo)

The military has identified at least 24 Marawi City barangays as off limits to residents and landowners due to so-called security issues.

Some of the baranggays are Marinaut, Padian, Pamping, Lilud Madaya, Raya Madaya, Kibulog, Banggolo, Proper Madaya, Tolali, Upper Tolali, Pangarongan, Norlaya Village, Baryo Paypay, Baryo Naga, Monkado Colony, Kadingilan, West Marinaut, Upper Marinaut, Timbangalan, Papandayan.

Ibrahim said they could not understand why movie actors such as Zanjoe Marudo and other celebrities have been allowed inside “ground zero” but Meranaws themselves are barred from visiting their communities months after the so-called liberation of Marawi.

Marudo played an army officer who participated in the siege of Marawi in a recent television special.

“It is high time for residents to see their homes, salvage what was left of their belongings and rebuild their houses. For 10 months, they were deprived of their right to come back to their homes and were angered at reports that President Rodrigo Duterte would convert their communities into a military camp, a tourism hub and commercial center instead of rebuilding their houses,” Tindeg Ranao’s statement said.

“The Meranaw landowners and residents want to go back to their communities which they considered as their ancestral homes, decades of ownership dates back before it was identified as military reservation area or secured by President Duterte for other purpose than landowners rebuilding their homes,” it added.

The group said landowners were angered at learning that some “ground zero” areas were targeted as military camps such as Brgy. Kapantaran and other areas as economic zones.

Tindeg Ranao said the displaced residents are united in protesting against an additional military camp inside Marawi, saying Camp Ranao already serves as the camp for the 103rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army as well as an undisclosed number of US soldiers under the US-RP Balikatan Exercises.

Landowners are demanding that consultations are held before planning for the reconstruction of Marawi starts, it added.

They are also demanding for the indemnification of landowners whose houses were destroyed by “excessive” military airstrikes, Tindeg Ranao said.

Displaced Marawi residents forced to hold their Jumaat at the foot of Pumping Bridge. (KIlab Multimedia photo)

Humanitarian crisis

Tindeg Ranao said the five-month old siege in June to November last year has caused a humanitarian crisis among the people of Lanao del Sur.

Citing Department of Social Welfare and Development figures, the group said there are at least 7,551 evacuees that have yet gone back to Marawi City four months after its so-called liberation from ISIS-inspired gunmen.

But there are still an undetermined number of evacuees that are still in the evacuation centers or staying with their relatives, it said.

Tindeg Ranao said transitional houses built for these residents at the Sagonsongan area at the boundary of Marawi City and  Saguiaran, Lanao del Sur have been abandoned due to lack of services such as water.

Journalist threatened

Meanwhile, a journalist covering the march was threatened by an unidentified Army officer at the Pumping Bridge barricade.

While taking photos of the displaced residents at the PNP-PA blockade at the city’s Rapitan Bridge, the unidentified officer saw Davao Today reporter Kath M. Cortez Cortez’s media ID and reportedly shouted: “’Uy, taga-Davao. Kumpiskahin ang ID! Kumpiskahin ang camera! Palabasin ‘yan ng Marawi!” (Hey, she’s from Davao! Confiscate her ID! Confiscate her camera! Get her out of Marawi!)

Before soldiers could carry out the order, Cortez had safely retreated to the back of rally where she has been joined by fellow journalists from Davao City.

But even when Cortez was at the back, soldiers kept ordering her to leave.

“Kaha-harass lang ulit sa akin. Pinapa-alis na talaga nila ako. But patapos na ang program,” Cortez told Kodao two hours after the first incident. (They harassed me again. They really want me out of here. But the rally is about to end anyway.) # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Kodao website is back online

Kodao Productions’s website, www.kodao.org, has gone live again Wednesday, March 28.

Nearly two months after being downed by a cyber attack, the alternative news outfit’s online platform has undergone major changes and now includes new sections. Read more

Global Voices Inks Partnership with the Philippines’ Kodao Productions

Global Voices has signed a content partnership with Kodao Productions, an alternative media company based in the Philippines.

Established in 2000, Kodao is recognized as one of the oldest existing alternative news groups in the country. The word ‘kodao’ refers to an indigenous calendar used in southern Philippines to mark social events in a tribal community.

Kodao, through its video and community radio programs, is known for its coverage of social issues that affect the grassroots such as land reform, labor relations, climate change, corruption, human rights violations, mining activities, and urban poor policies.

Last February 2018, its website was hacked which was quickly linked by media groups to the “government’s efforts to silence critical media.” The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines condemned the attack “coming as it did when other media organizations are also under relentless attacks from enemies of press freedom and other human rights.”

Screenshot of Kodao website after it was hacked

Despite the cyberattack, Kodao continues to publish and broadcast stories through social media.

Its website will be relaunched soon and it will feature Global Voices stories on its main page.

Raymund Villanueva, director of Kodao, shares his enthusiasm about the partnership between Global Voices and Kodao:

Kodao’s reportage is strong on human rights, basic sectors and grassroots communities, environment protection, and conflict resolution, among other social justice issues in the Philippines. It hopes to contribute these kinds of stories to Global Voices in order for the international community to better understand the hopes and aspirations as well as the struggles of the Filipino people for a genuinely free, democratic, and just society.

Below is an example of Kodao’s work which highlights marginalized voices in society. The video report is about the impact of a proposed lakeshore expressway in Muntinlupa and Laguna which are located in the south part of Manila, the country’s capital.

Marcos all over again, women journalists on Women’s Day say

History is repeating itself, Filipino women journalists said at a forum on the role of women in Philippine media at the University of the Philippines last Thursday, International Working Women’s Day.

Eminent women journalists likened the Rodrigo Duterte government to Ferdinand Marcos’s martial law for its many attacks against press freedom at the Women Talk Back: We are not All Vagina forum at the College of Mass Communication Auditorium.

“The media may seem free but many are afraid. There is a chilling effect,” broadcast journalist Ces Oreña-Drilon said.

The Duterte government has been condemned for its attacks against critical media outfits such as the Philippine Daily Inquirer, ABS-CBN, Rappler, Catholic Media Network, Kodao, among others.

Duterte himself has been criticized for his rants and threats against journalists and catcalling broadcaster Mariz Umali on live television.

Broadcaster Kara David for her part criticized Malacañan Palace’s statement that people should look beyond Duterte’s jokes and instead look at his pro-women record as Davao City mayor.

David said that while Davao City has pro-women programs, it still does not look good to see a leader who constantly makes derogatory jokes and sexist remarks.

“These impacts big against women,” she said, adding Duterte should be kicked out if he were a student.

Veteran journalists, Jo-Ann Maglipon, Ma. Ceres P. Doyo, Cheche Lazaro, Melinda de Jesus, Chuchay Fernandez, Malu Mangahas and National Union of Journalists of the Philippines acting chairperson Jo Clemente were resource persons at the forum.

Recalling her experiences under the Marcos dictatorship, Lazaro said history is repeating itself under the Duterte government. # (Report and photo by Maricon Montajes)

NUJP wants Senate to cite blogger for contempt

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) urged the Senate to cite blogger Rey Joseph Nieto for contempt or be charged for perjury for resurrecting a discredited post at the Senate committee on public information and mass media hearing Wednesday.

In a statement, the NUJP said Nieto omitted the fact that his June 16 post unleashed a barrage of harassment and threats against Aznar.

“That Nieto did all this under oath should have earned him a perjury charge or a contempt citation at the very least,” the NUJP said.

Nieto, creator of the blog Thinking Pinoy and public relations consultant of the Department of Foreign Affairs was among the resource persons invited to the hearing into fake news.

In his testimony, Nieto again cited his claim Aznar had endangered government soldiers by posting online videos he took of the fighting in the early days of the Marawi crisis.

NUJP said that Nieto was making it appear that his post was a benign reminder to an errant journalist instead of the hate-filled and, worst of all, totally false rant.

A VeraFiles FactCheck on June 30, however said Aznar uploaded his video on the internet 73 minutes after it was taken.

Aznar for his part said Nieto’s latest statement against him are “foul and vile.”

Aznar added that both the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police released a statement denying Nieto’s claims.

“That Nieto did all this under oath should have earned him a perjury charge or a contempt citation at the very least. That he did so as a consultant of the DFA, paid with the people’s money, makes it a hundred times worse,” NUJP said.

“There is no place in government – or in the field of professional communications, for that matter – for barefaced liars,” NUJP added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Bicol broadcaster survives attack

Carlos ‘Caloy’ Sasis. (Photo by Angel de Mesa, Baretang Bikolnon)

A Bicol broadcaster survived an attack by two gunmen earlier this week as he was about to park his car in front of their radio station in Legazpi City.

Carlos Sasis, 41, anchor of daily radio program “Dos Manos” over Zagitsit News FM 100.3 told independent media outfit Baretang Bikolnon he heard gunshots and bullets hitting the wheels of his car just as he arrived at the station.

Sasis added he saw a bulky gunman trying to reload his gun after the first volley of fire.

The victim said he believed the attack was meant to harass him, “because if they really wanted to kill me, they should have just shot me straight, not (at) my car.”

Baretang Bikolnon quoted a witness as saying the gunmen had coffee at an eatery in front of the radio station along Imelda C. Roces Avenua in Barangay Gogon before the shooting.

Asked for possible motives behind the attack, Sasis said he himself was puzzled.

“I cannot think of any reason for them to do this to me. Personally, I do not aggravate anyone, even at my service as a barangay official,” he stated.

Sasis is a councilor of Barangay Cabangan, Camalig, Albay Province.

Police recovered three spent cartridges and an unspent bullet from the scene.

Baretang Bikolnon reported the police is in possession of a “clear footage from the CCTV.”

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines issued an alert on the attack Friday.

The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) for its part said they have already sent a team to Legazpi City Thursday to conduct an investigation.

“We are on it,” PTFoMS executive director and Presidential Communications Office Undersecretary Jose Joel M. Sy Egco said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva / Photos by Angel de Mesa, Baretang Bikolnon)

 

 

STATEMENT: The NUJP on Duterte siblings’ threats against local broadcaster

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines views with concern the statements of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte against broadcaster Dodong Solis of Radyo ni Juan.

The mayor has resorted to personal attacks in response to commentaries of Solis on the agrarian unrest between farmers and Lapanday Foods Corp.; the recent attack of New People’s Army rebels against the company that unfortunately resulted in the death of a bystander; and on statements she issued, including her husband Manases “Mans” Carpio’s association with Lapanday as lawyer.

Solis’ remarks are part of his work as a broadcaster and an exercise of his Constitutionally-guaranteed right to freedom of expression.

The mayor has the same right to refute these remarks.

But in a statement, the mayor said:

“Naluoy kos imong asawa, iyaha kinabuhi nagdepende ra intawn sa imong babà, di pud siya kaayo makalayo kay gamay rapud baya imong utok,” Duterte said in a Facebook post. (I pity your wife, your life only depends on your mouth, she can’t leave you because you have a small brain. If I were her, I would leave you.)

“I am fair game but do not touch my husband. Open your mouth again about my husband and I will tell your wife and your entire family about your secrets.”

Her brother and vice mayor Paolo Duterte exercised the same power on Solis, with the former threatening to beat up the broadcaster.

“Asa man imong pangutok? Kinsa ka? Wa ko kaila nimo! Sikat ka o gapasikat?” said the vice mayor in an open letter posted on his Facebook page. (Where’s your brain huh? Who are you anyway? I don’t know you! Are you famous or just trying to be one?)

“Ayaw ko unahi kay ug imo hilabtan akong pamilya di ko mag duha duha ug bukbok nimo.”
(Don’t start with me, because if you do, I won’t think twice to beat you up.)

Resorting to personal attacks and veiled threats is alarming especially coming from an official who has physically attacked and publicly humiliated a court sheriff whom she perceived to have defied her instructions in the demolition of houses of informal settlers.

The mayor is no ordinary person. She wields influence and power not only due to her office but as daughter of the highest official of the country.

As a public official, she is subject to commentaries and criticisms especially from the press and should not respond with personal attacks and threats.

STATEMENT: Only tyrants shut down the news media

President Rodrigo Duterte would be well advised to step back across the line he crossed on Wednesday, April 27, 2017 when he threatened to personally block the renewal by Congress of broadcast network ABS-CBN’s franchise, and to go after the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

While Mr. Duterte has publicly cursed these two and other outfits for reportage he has found objectionable, this is the first time he has openly threatened to shut down a media organization by using alleged offenses that have nothing to do with journalism.

By issuing such threats, Mr. Duterte is blatantly dangling the powers of the presidency and of the state, signaling his willingness to use these to stifle freedom of the press and of expression.

And no, lest his mouthpieces attempt to excuse him by invoking hyperbole or his peculiar sense of humor, he was clearly not joking. Just as he was not joking when he declared human rights and due process anathema to his brand of governance and now, it seems, so are a free and critical media.

What we do know is the last time a president actually shut down the press, it did not end well for him, like it almost always never ends well for tyrants.

If there is a time for the Philippine media community to set aside our differences and unite to oppose any and all attempts to silence us, it is now. Not to do so is to seal our doom and to betray our role as the Fourth Estate, the people’s watchdogs against bad and abusive governance.

 

THE NATIONAL DIRECTORATE

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines

April 28, 2017

NUJP STATEMENT: No excuse for Sec. Lopez’s treatment of Businessworld reporter

Statement April 7, 2017

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines condemns Environment Secretary Gina Lopez’s totally unjustified behavior toward Businessworld reporter Janina Lim, who she cursed and maligned Thursday for simply doing her job.

It is doubly unfortunate that Ms. Lopez, the scion of a family intimately involved in media, should justify her boorishness toward Ms. Lim by blaming one of the qualities indispensable to being a journalist – persistence.

A recording of Ms. Lopez’s tirade captured her berating Lim of being “just a f—ing employee” and asking the reporter why she did not have a “heart for the poor.”

Ms. Lim was simply asking Ms. Lopez to elaborate on her order for miners to set aside more funds apart from what they are required to contribute to a “rehabilitation fund” for formerly mined lands but the DENR secretary berated Lim and another colleague, telling them: “You know, you guys should do your work, but why don’t you have a heart for the poor? Where’s your heart?”

When Ms. Lim tried to follow up, Ms. Lopez turned on her and said: “You know you are so young and you’re already bought by the greed and selfishness.”

It was at this point that Ms. Lim finally answered Ms. Lopez squarely, saying: “I was not bought, Ma’am. I was not bought. Thank you. Thank you.”

Ms. Lopez subsequently sent a message to Businessworld attempting to explain her side. If anything, however, she only helped indict herself even more.

She claimed she was late and rushing to a TV interview when accosted by Lim in a stairway and was piqued because she had “often been irritated” by the “line of questioning” of the “young and persistent reporter.”

“She was not the best person to meet while rushing for an appointment. So I lost my cool with her,” Ms. Lopez said in her message to Businessworld.

She also attempted to blame Lim for recording “a repartee that took place in a stairway” that, she claimed, should have been “left in the privacy for which it is meant,” even hinting the whole incident seemed to be “like looking for some kind of hole to punch.”

When does being “irritated” by a “persistent reporter” give a public official or anyone else for that matter the right to verbally abuse them?

If, indeed, Ms. Lim had consistently and persistently shown objectionable or offensive behavior in the course of her work, Ms. Lopez could easily have communicated this with the reporter’s superiors and asked that the situation be rectified.

And no, Ms. Lopez, what happened was not “repartee.” It was a legitimate attempt by a journalist to interview you on an issue related to your work and, thus, of public interest.

If you were, as you claim, in a hurry because you were late for an interview, you could have simply said so or even ignored the question. Instead, you actually took the time to stop and insult Ms. Lim and, worse, belittled her for being “just a f—ing employee,” as if honest toil were something to be ashamed of.

Ms. Lopez, your zeal for the causes close to your heart can never justify your despicable treatment of Ms. Lim. If anything, such a mindset, which brooks no questioning or dissent, is anathema to democracy.

We demand that you apologize to Ms. Lim and pledge to be more open to questioning. This is the least you can do. #