MANILA – Social media attacks against journalists are going rock bottom amid a teetering relationship between the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte and the media.
On Monday, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) released a statement calling for the administration of President Duterte, through the Communications Office represented by Secretary Martin Andanar, to investigate the attacks against reporters Gretchen Malalad and Al-Jazeera correspondent Jamela Alindogan-Caudron.
Malalad, a former reporter for ABS-CBN, became a target of attacks on social media after allegedly sharing information to a foreign journalist who wrote a scathing report on Duterte’s supposed connection to extrajudicial killings.
Meanwhile, Alindogan-Caudron is being criticized for her reporting of the recent deaths of soldiers who were part of the hunt against the Abu Sayyaf group.
“We do take some measure of hope from the Duterte administration’s creation of a special task force to investigate media killings and other threats against the Philippine press. This might be the perfect opportunity for the task force, or an equivalent mechanism currently available, to prove its worth,” said NUJP Chair Ryan D. Rosauro in a statement.
The organization underscored the role of the media in free speech and reporting the news, adding that the media remains open to public engagements so long as these are within the bounds of professional criticism. Rosauro, however, warned that blaming the media for its coverage and threatening them is tantamount to asking the profession to abrogate its duties.
“We will never take any threats, whether of physical harm or to silence us, lightly for we have lost far too many of our colleagues and hardly seen justice for them,” Rosauro said.
Rosauro also called on journalists to report to NUJP any attacks and threats so as to properly document them and call the attention of appropriate law enforcement bodies.
“Independent Philippine journalists helped shine the light on the dark deeds of the Marcos dictatorship and continued to scrutinize each and every administration since then without fear or favor despite the dangers we have and continue to face, for which many of us have paid the ultimate sacrifice. We will continue to do so and to oppose any attempts to stifle press freedom, a freedom that, incidentally, does not belong to us but to the people whose right to know that freedom serves,” Rosauro said.