8 July 2021
Human Rights Online Philippines and thirty (30) human rights organizations are in support of the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) as it published a gallery of grim portraits, those of 37 heads of state or government who crack down massively on press freedom.
Press freedom is an essential pillar of our democracy. Respect for press freedom however is deteriorating in many countries as reported by RSF’s predators of press freedom.
Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s inclusion in the list of press freedom predators is not bereft of evidence. We have witnessed an increase in the number of cases of violence against journalists. The crackdown on media critical of the government’s policies and impunity for violations committed against journalists in the Philippines are attacks on press freedom.
Since November 2020, according to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), nineteen journalists have been killed in the 4 years of the administration of Duterte, as attacks on the media continue due to what it alleges as a culture of impunity that prevails in the country. In addition, many human rights organizations documented other forms of human rights violations committed against journalists such as threats, intimidation including red-tagging both online and offline.
Reportedly, based on digital forensics report by Sweden-based Qurium Media Foundation, websites of alternative media outfits of Bulatlat.com, Altermidya.net, HRonlinePH and other human rights groups have been subjected to series of cyberattacks like distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, which is a malicious attempt to disrupt the normal traffic of a targeted server, service or network of website.
The RSF also pointed out how Duterte’s allies have been targeting Rappler and its CEO Maria Ressa by using different types of lawsuits, from tax evasion to defamation, in a deliberate effort to silence dissent and those critical of Duterte’s policies particularly the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign that has killed thousands of drug suspects. It’s been almost a year since the Congress denied ABS-CBN’s application for renewal of its franchise; the network station has been off-air since then. During Covid-19 pandemic, there were reported cases of violence and reprisals committed against journalists for questioning the government’s policies.
The Philippines remains one of the most dangerous places for journalists today. Freedom of the media is under assault. These attacks on press freedom and freedom of expression are clear indicators of the erosion of democratic space in the Philippines.
We urge the government to ensure that journalists can carry out their work free from violence and intimidation and fulfill their role as public “watchdog”, which includes holding public authorities accountable for their decisions and actions.
We call on authorities to provide effective protection to journalists to help them continue their work in a safe working environment free from violence and intimidation. Press freedom predators and violators should be held accountable most especially if they hold the highest position of the government.
And we call on the public to be critical and vigilant in the upcoming May 2022 election, and elect public officials that uphold and take actions to respect, protect and fulfill freedom of expression and press freedom.
Active Vista Center
Advocates for Freedom of Expression Coalition-Southeast Asia (AFEC-SEA)
Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM)
ANIBAN ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (AMA)
Asian Center for Journalism (ACFJ)
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-Asia)
Bagong Kamalyan Prostitution Survivors’ Collective
Balay Alternative Legal Advocates for Development in Mindanaw (BALAOD Mindanaw)
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP)
DAKILA – Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism
Empowered Women Survivors’ Collective (EWSC)
Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND)
Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA)
Human Rights Online Philippines (HRonlinePH)
In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND)
Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KILUSAN)
Medical Action Group (MAG)
Pagkakaisa ng Kababaihan para sa Kalayaan (KAISA KA)
Partido Manggagawa (PM)
Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights)
Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights (LILAK)
Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO)
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)
True Colors Coalition (TCC)
United Against Torture Coalition (UATC)- Philippines
Youth and Students Advancing Gender Equality (YSAGE)
Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau (WLB)
World March of Women- Pilipinas