Tell it to SunStar: Grave violation of press freedom

WE view the ban on Rappler reporter Pia Ranada as an escalation of an assault against Rappler that started with social media attacks and verbal abuse. This was followed by the decision to revoke Rappler’s registration, which Presidential Communications Office head Martin Andanar acknowledged was aimed at hampering Rappler’s ability to perform its daily news operations.

We believe Malacañang’s latest move is a reaction to the doggedness displayed by Rappler in its reportage and a sign of vulnerability to Rappler’s exposé on the role of Mr. Duterte’s right-hand man, Bong Go, in the frigate deal controversy.

The contradictory statements by Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque and the office of the Executive Secretary further betray the government’s fear of Rappler’s steadfast journalism. The charge of fake news is belied by the paper trail provided by reporters and their efforts to get the side of government officials.

The latest attack on Rappler clearly intends to discourage other news outfits that struggle to practice independent journalism amid incessant attacks by Duterte and his propaganda army.

Even worse are the remarks of the head of the Presidential Security Group (PSG).

We condemn in the strongest terms PSG Commander Lope Dagoy for claiming that a soldier questioned by Ranada was within his rights to hurt her. Such remarks betray the fascist mindset that permeates government in the time of Duterte. Ranada was rightly questioning a gatekeeper, who ought to have been fully briefed.

For Dagoy to equate irritation over an assertion of a right to action deserving of physical punishment is dangerous, not only to journalists, but to all citizens who desire to document unjust official actions.

Already, journalists in the provinces are being harassed during coverage. In the countryside, the Armed Forces is attacking the ability of people’s organizations and human rights workers to document abuses, targeting their access to communications and to affected communities.

We remind Filipinos that stepped-up attacks on press freedom and the people’s right to express is a requisite for dictatorship. The silencing of the press and of our citizens engaged in truth-telling paves the way for whole-scale war on human rights and civil liberties.--Movement Against Tyranny

Grave form of censorship

We condemn the continued harassment of Rappler by a government that fears a critical press. This latest move by President Duterte of banning Rappler’s Pia Ranada from Malacañang should be taken in the context of the revocation of Rappler’s corporate status, which Presidential Communications Office head Martin Andanar gleefully pointed out, would hamper the flow of its operations.

Punishing a critical press falls under the ambit of tyranny. We call on colleagues in the media to stand together in fighting acts of repression by the Duterte regime. We call on all Filipinos to stand with media in the fight for press freedom. --Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity (Lodi)
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