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IBON opens to gov’t inspection days before anti-terrorism law effectivity

With the Anti-Terrorism Law (ATL) soon coming into effect, research group IBON opened their office for inspection by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and Bgy. Sacred Heart officials last Wednesday, July 15.

The group said they requested the ocular inspection to show their transparency and prove the absence of illegal materials and equipment on the premises.

[WATCH LIVE VIDEO HERE]

“This is an important contribution to IBON asserting its character as a legitimate organization that does not, never has, and never will have the guns, explosives, and other illegal items that are wont to be planted to justify spurious search warrants and bogus charges against activists and human rights defenders,” the group’s executive director Sonny Africa said.

The group said that it also wants to protect the rights and ensure the safety of IBON staff and tenants.

IBON Foundation said the inspection is in anticipation of the ATL which is presumed to become effective on July 18.

The group recalled the Duterte administration’s continued disinformation drive about IBON which appears to be laying the groundwork for using the ATL against it.

Africa expressed concern that the draconian and oppressive law will be used to try and hinder IBON’s research, education and advocacy work.

The CHR first inspected IBON premises in November 2019 after a reported imminent police operation on its building.

It confirmed the absence of anything illegal, irregular, or prohibited on the premises.

IBON is among many non-government organizations actively red-tagged by the National Task Force to End Local Communism and Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) since late 2018. 

The group has repeatedly refuted allegations by the government task force that it supports terrorism.

The IBON building also houses AlterMidya and IBON International who are also targets of government harassment and red-tagging.

Last February, IBON lodged a complaint at the Office of the Ombudsman against NTF-ELCAC officials: National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon; Armed Forces of the Philippines Deputy Chief of Operations Brigadier General Antonio Parlade; and Presidential Communications and Operations Office secretary Lorraine Badoy. This was for their malicious and baseless red-tagging of IBON since 2018.

IBON said that it supports petitions against the Anti-Terrorism Law filed at the Supreme Court.

The law must be declared unconstitutional for being overly vague in its definition of terrorism. It gives room to target economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights defenders and in doing so undermines prospects for economic democracy, human rights and social justice. These are if anything more crucial than ever at this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, said the group. #

Joint statement: Stand with ABS-CBN, Defend Free Expression

Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, Jr. of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) issued a statement Monday night claiming that “the ABS-CBN issue is about CPP [Communist Party of the Philippines] propaganda, so it falls under NTF ELCAC’s mandate.”

The statement came after the brouhaha ignited by the recent crossposting in several official government social media accounts of false information about the ABS-CBN issue.

Despite the fact that the NTF ELCAC got burned by the Palace when Communications Sec. Martin Andanar admitted that the cross-posting of NTF ELCAC’s infographics on ABS-CBN did not undergo the “usual vetting procedures,” Parlade persisted in linking the ABS-CBN issue to the CPP.

Under different circumstances, we could have dismissed Parlade’s red-baiting statement. But the reality is that journalists are being harassed, arrested, and killed under the pretext of counter-insurgency.

In a futile attempt to blindside the alternative media, Parlade directly mentioned the Altermidya Network and its members including Bulatlat, Kodao, Tudla, Kilab, Northern Dispatch, and even the formations National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, Union of Journalists of the Philippines (UJP), and the College Editors Guild of the Philippines, labeling all these groups as “creations of the CPP.” The general also labeled veteran journalist Inday Espina-Varona as a “long-time cohort” of the CPP and dared her to “expose herself some more.”

As we have said, time and again, the fight for the ABS-CBN franchise renewal is a fight for free expression and a fight for all. But Parlade is instead red-tagging virtually everyone and anyone who supports the call for the renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise.

There is nothing new in this attack. Keen observers of the increasingly deteriorating state of press freedom in the country were not surprised. In the context of the Duterte administration’s weaponizing the public health emergency to further its goal of controlling information and public opinion, Parlade’s use of the ABS-CBN issue is just one more demonstration of its determination to silence dissent and free expression.

At a time when millions are standing up and speaking out about the abuses of the Duterte administration, state agents respond with a patently unconstitutional crackdown on the media sector.

Parlade’s empty accusations should not deter the media from reporting the truth. Rather they should continue to monitor and hold government to account despite its concerted efforts to silence them.

Stand with ABS-CBN!  Defend press freedom and free expression!

SIGNATORIES

Altermidya Network
Bulatlat
Kilab Multimedia
Kodao Productions
Northern Dispatch
Tudla Productions
National Union of Journalists of the Philippines
College Editors Guild of the Philippines
Union of Journalists of the Philippines-UP

Philippine Press Institute
International Association of Women in Radio & Television (IAWRT) Philippines
UP Journalism Department
Photojournalists’ Center of the Philippines (PCP)
Let’s Organize for Democracy & Integrity – LODI
Concerned Artists of the Philippines
NUJP-NCR
Manila Today
Pinoy Weekly
PinoyMedia Center
UP Solidaridad
CEGP- Bicol, CEGP-Cagayan, CEGP-Cavite, CEGP-Cebu, CEGP-Central Luzon, CEGP-Cordillera, CEGP- Davao, CEGP-Ilocos, CEGP-Laguna, CEGP-Metro Manila, CEGP-Panay, CEGP-Southern Tagalog

Individuals

Inday Espina-Varona
Prof. Luis V. Teodoro
Ramon R. Tuazon
Therese S. Torres
Ma. Imelda Samson

Campus publications

Philippine Collegian
Manila Collegian
UPLB Perspective
UP Bagiuio Outcrop
UP Cebu Tug-ani
UP Mindanao Himati
Tinig ng Plaridel
Sinag (UP CSSP)
Kalasag (UP CAL)
Pagbutlak (UPV CAS)
UP Scientia (UP CS)
The Accounts (UPV College of Management)
NCPAG-Umalohokan
Alyansa ng Kabataang Mamamahayag ng PUP
CLSU Collegian
Fiat Lux
Himati-UP Mindanao
Iskolarium-PUP Sta. Maria Bulacan Campus
RedWire – University of the East
The Current – CMU
PUP BiblioFlix
The Angelite – Holy Angel University
The Catalyst PUP
The Chronicler – PUP Taguig
The College Chronicles –  Meycauayan College
The Lycean Pioneer-LPU Manila SHS
The Red Chronicles – San Beda College Alabang School of Law
The Geyser – Isabela State University Cabagan
The CSU Promethean – Cagayan State University Carig
The Scribes – PUP City of Meycauayan
The Searcher – PUP Sto. Tomas
The Work – Tarlac State University
TomasinoWeb – University of Santo Tomas