NUJP to Duterte admin: Probe threats vs journos, stop blaming media
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) on Monday called on the Duterte administration to stop what it called a “penchant” for blaming the media for controversies arising from its own statements and actions.
“We urge the administration to end its penchant of constantly blaming the media for any controversy its words and actions give rise to. As communicators, we are only too aware of the power of words, especially when uttered by those in positions of leadership, for these may be, and have many times been, taken as gospel truth and a license to precipitate action by true believers,” the NUJP said in a statement.
“As journalists, it is our duty to report events as faithfully as we can. To blame us for the consequences of what those we cover utter or do is tantamount to asking us to abrogate our duties and be silent. This we cannot and will never do,” it added.
President Rodrigo Duterte had a rocky relationship with the media since assuming office, at one point saying that some corrupt journalists deserved to die. The President had also accused journalists of sensationalizing and twisting his statements, which are typically laced with expletives.
The NUJP’s statement came amid threats that some Filipino journalists received online following the publication of Duterte’s war on drugs on the cover of TIME Magazine Asian edition. The story, headlined “Night falls on the Philippines,” was written by Rishi Iyengar.
Netizens, led by performer and vocal Duterte supporter Mocha Uson, tagged Filipino freelance journalist Gretchen Manalad as the author’s supposed source of information for his TIME report after commenting on Iyengar’s Facebook post.
Al Jareeza correspondent Jamela Alindogan-Caudron was also at the receiving end of threats from Duterte supporters after giving her two cents on the cost of the President’s call to wipe out members of the bandit group Abu Sayyaf on Facebook.
The NUJP urged Presidential Communications Office Secretary Martin Andanar, a former media practitioner himself, to launch an investigation into open threats against Manalad, Alindogan-Caudron and other journalists and to “do its utmost to ensure that none of these are carried out.”
“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,” the group said.
“The media, whether here or elsewhere, will always welcome engagement, including criticism, from their audience for this is also how we learn to be more effective communicators. However, 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,” NUJP added.
In July, Andanar said Duterte had ordered the creation of a task force on media killings, adding that his office was already drafting an administrative order that would define the parameters of the task force. No update has been given since. RAM
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