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‘Journos should hold power to account, uphold democracy at all times’ — Focap

/ 08:51 AM May 03, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Journalists have a critical duty to “hold power to account” and “uphold democracy at all times, no matter how difficult,” the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (Focap) reminded media practitioners on Friday as the world celebrates the annual Press Freedom Day.

In a statement, Focap stressed that now is not a time to bend and shrink especially that governments have sought to paint the free press as “enemies of states” to “muzzle” and “escape accountability.”

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“As the country’s fourth estate and as one of the world’s independent watchdogs, we believe journalists have a critical duty to hold power to account and to uphold democracy at all times, no matter how difficult,” the group said.

“More than ever, it is a time to close ranks because truth is the bedrock of everything we hold dear as a country and people. When we lose our freedom to report the truth, everyone loses. We lose our dignity. We lose our soul,” it added.

Having been born during the time of the Marcos dictatorship, Focap said it “remains committed to speaking truth to power fearlessly and without compromises” even as today’s tools for media repression may be different.

In the Philippines, a major broadsheet earlier published a diagram, titled “Association Matrix Between Bikoy and Ellen Tordesillas.” The so-called matrix showed the alleged links among a certain “Bikoy”, news site Rappler, media nonprofit Vera Files, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, and the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), and other journalists and lawyers who are allegedly behind an attempt to unseat President Rodrigo Duterte.

READ: Palace confirms ‘oust-Duterte’ plot

An anonymous “Bikoy” earlier appeared in a series of videos detailing his accusation that presidential son Paolo Duterte, Davao Mayor Sara Duterte’s husband Manases Carpio, and long-time aide Bong Go have ties with a drug syndicate.

The accused have denied the claim, with NUPL calling it “putrid garbage” and “not worth the paper it is written on.”

READ: Crackdown on independent media groups, rights lawyers feared | PCIJ says ‘matrix’ linking journos in oust plot vs Duterte erroneous

Armed Forces of the Philippines public affairs chief Col. Noel Detoyato meanwhile said they have not monitored any specific threat to oust the Chief Executive.

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READ:  No specific threat to oust Duterte — military

Meanwhile, 41 journalists across platforms have backed Rappler in asking the Supreme Court to scrap Malacañang’s order banning the news site’s reporters from covering events and stories in the executive branch of government.

READ: Overturn ban on Rappler coverage, journalists ask SC

It can be remembered that Rappler’s chief executive Maria Ressa was also arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation in February over a cyberlibel case. The arrest of Ressa, who has been critical of the Duterte administration, sparked condemnation from local and international groups. Rappler was also the subject of a tax evasion case and a license revocation over its alleged foreign ownership.

READ: Ressa arrest sparks int’l outrage

The President had also launched threats against other media outfits like the broadsheet Philippine Daily Inquirer and television network ABS-CBN. /muf

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TAGS: FOCAP, journalists, press freedom, Press Freedom Day
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