Duterte urged to probe social media threats vs journalists

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 21 2016 07:04 PM | Updated as of Sep 22 2016 01:27 PM

MANILA - International and local media groups have urged President Rodrigo Duterte's to act against extreme comments directed to two female journalists.

Freelance journalist Gretchen Malalad and Al Jazeera correspondent Jamela Alindogan-Caudron recently received rape and death threats over their critical reporting of the Philippine government's intensified crackdown on illegal drugs.

Malalad was bashed by netizens for simply commenting on the Facebook post of the writer of a TIME Magazine piece that shed light on Duterte's purported connections to extra-judicial killings. 

Alindogan-Caudron has been criticized for her reports about the Mindanao-based terrorist group Abu Sayyaf.

Amid these threats, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NJUP) have sought the immediate activation of the government's long-promised special task force devoted to investigating media-related killings. The groups are also seeking to put an end to the undue bashing of journalists.

In July, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said his office was in the process of drafting the details of the team. 

"Threats delivered to journalists via social media must be taken seriously by the government and perpetrators must be penalized accordingly so as to ensure the safety of journalists," the IFJ said in a statement Wednesday.

"This might be the perfect opportunity for the task force, or an equivalent mechanism currently available, to prove its worth," the organization said.

The IFJ labelled the Philippines as one of the most dangerous countries for practicing journalists, with 145 media workers killed since 1990.