The harassment that journalist Julie Alipala of the Philippine Daily Inquirer is being subjected to because her story of the killing of seven persons in Patikul Sulu contradicts the military version underscores once again the higher risks that reporters in the provinces face compared to those in Metro Manila.
A post in the Facebook wall of Phil Leaks dubs Julie as a certified paid hack who defends the terrorist group, the Abu Sayyaf. The comments are irresponsible and vicious. Examples: Bong Media said, “Dapat ito ang na-ambush.” Ricardo Macapagal said, “Tokhang yan.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines issued a statement condemning “the dubious Facebook group Phil Leaks” and demanded that “Facebook take down the page Phil Leaks for endangering Alipala and other known critics of this Rodrigo Duterte government.”
Julie’s story belies reports attributed to the military that last Saturday, Sept. 15, seven members of the ASG who were Tausug were killed in a two-hour encounter in Barangay Bakong, Patikul, and Sulu.
Julie’s report said the seven were not ASG. They were on their way to harvest lanzones and durian Friday. In fact, they were able to secure permit from the military to go their farmland in Sitio Tubig Bato in Barangay Kabuntakas in Patikul.
Julie said there were three witnesses who saw the seven arrested by Scout Rangers from the 32nd Infantry Battalion arrested them. The next day they were all dead, their body riddled with bullets.
Julie quoted Mahmur Arula, a relative of the seven victims, declaring, “They were not terrorists.They were just trying to earn a living by harvesting their own trees inside that area.”
Julie’s colleagues rallied behind her. NUJP members in Zamboanga, Balisan and Sulu said they take offense in allegations of corruption against Julie.
NUJP Cagayan de Oro said, “While the military has insisted that the young men were killed in a ‘legitimate encounter,’ journalists worth their salt are duty-bound to present all sides of an incident.”
They said they are not required to mouth the government’s propaganda machine.
They called on authorities to check background of this dubious group behind the Phil Leaks Facebook Page as it “ endangers the life of Ms. Alipala.”
NUJP said: Our colleague’s life is endangered by the irresponsible claim and criminal act of the creators and administrators of this social media group. We demand that government authorities, including the Presidential Task Force on Media Security, the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police investigate this attack and prosecute the perpetrators.”
Whoever is harassing Julie should remember this: Shooting the messenger won’t kill the truth.
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Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.