'The fear is very real': Raissa Robles on the 'fear' of being a journalist

Jon Caña, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Oct 19 2017 06:13 PM

BERKELEY, California - Raissa Robles first began her career as an investigative journalist under the Marcos dictatorship. But after interviewing the Philippines’ 5 succeeding presidents, it is only now that she says she is afraid.

"Now, I always look behind my shoulder, to the left or right to see if somebody is following me. The fear is very real," Robles said.

Robles recently spoke at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism, highlighting her long journalism career in one of the most dangerous countries for journalists in the world, the Philippines.

“It takes a tremendous amount of commitment because there are people who oppose it and who are against this kind of work," said Professor John Temple.

During the talk, Robles and Professor Temple noted parallels between the campaigns of presidents Donald Trump and Rodrigo Duterte—ones they say took advantage of social media.

“If you look at the online bashing during the Duterte campaign, it’s the same kind of online bashing during the Trump campaign. It's like both had a vicious strategy with regards to use of online media,” she said.

Larry Que, a publisher in Catanduanes, was shot dead in December 2016 in what was considered the first media-related killing under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. 

Last year, the Duterte government created a task force to address media killings.

It was told to conduct an inventory of cases of media killings within 30 days, including unsolved cases, cases under investigation, cases under preliminary investigation, cases under trial, and cases under appeal. 

The task force was also mandated to "monitor and if needed, provide assistance" to members of the media who are covering "areas under military operations, armed conflict." 

"If you're threatened anywhere, online or on the ground, it's still a threat... You can report it to us," Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar then said. 

Meanwhile, US Congress continues to investigate Russia's role in the 2016 US presidential election, including alleged use of online attacks and fake news spread by what are now known as internet trolls.

In a digital age, these journalists advised people to exercise vigilance when it comes to consuming information. 

“The danger is that voices will be silenced, fake news will be distributed, and we could twist the culture and potentially damage our own society through social media,” Prof. Temple said.

Robles added: “What is the truth? That’s very important. They have to be their own investigative reporters.”

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