Karapatan disputes DILG’s exec, says cops, barangay asked for campus journo’s retraction
MANILA, Philippines – Rights group Karapatan has contradicted the claims of an official of the Department of the Interior and Local Government that the government should not be involved in the issue of a school paper editor who criticized the administration, pointing out that it was police and barangay officers who asked for the student’s retraction.
According to Karaptan on Thursday, it was police officers who accommodated the complaint against University of the East (UE) campus journalist Joshua Molo, while the barangay officials supposedly coerced Molo into filming an apology.
Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya on Wednesday said that they support the exercise of freedom of expression, noting that the government has nothing to do with it. He also slammed Karapatan for dragging the national government into the issue.
Molo was recently involved in a controversy after a video of him apologizing to his former teachers went viral on social media. The student, who was critical of the government’s policies towards the COVID-19 pandemic, supposedly got into an argument with his former instructor who supported the government.
“Our first brilliant idea is to give Jonathan Malaya a refresher on reading comprehension. It was the Philippine National Police Cybercrime Division together with barangay officials that accommodated the malicious allegations of Joshua Molo’s former teachers and they were the ones that coerced him into filming an apology video repudiating his criticism of the government,” Karapatan said in a statement.
Karapatan also noted that it was President Rodrigo Duterte himself who said that troublemakers — or presumably those who criticize government while the crisis is ongoing — can be arrested.
“To claim that the government was never involved is ludicrous: it was the President who flaunted the policy of arresting anyone who dares to cause ‘trouble,’” the group explained.
“The President has long been attacking the media and journalists — and they have created a chilling effect threatening press freedom and free expression in the country,” they added.
While various sectors appeared satisfied with the response of President Duterte’s administration towards the pandemic, critics believe that the government can do more, especially in terms of mass testing people who are more prone to contracting COVID-19.
The government also has drawn flak for its alleged slow response for workers affected by the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). After the whole Luzon was placed under the ECQ, work — except for frontline services — was suspended.
This has left people who rely on daily wages and other sectors nothing to spend throughout the ECQ.
Department of Health officials said that there are now at 4,076 patients infected with COVID-19, 203 of which have already died while at least 124 have recovered.
Worldwide, over 1.5 million individuals have been infected, while 88,228 have died from the disease and 330,934 have recovered from it.
Karapatan urged Malaya and other officials to listen to the demands of the people, as it would address problems related to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Karapatan has long been supporting the four-point demand calling for the provision of adequate and just social amelioration for the poor and for those who lost their jobs because of lockdown measures, mass testing for affected communities and risk groups, the protection of frontline health workers, and an end to human rights violations under the lockdown,” the group said.
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