NUJP warns Duterte against threatening media orgs
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) on Friday warned President Rodrigo Duterte against threatening to close down media networks.
“President Rodrigo Duterte would be well advised to step back across the line he crossed on Wednesday, April 27, 2017 when he threatened to personally block the renewal by Congress of broadcast network ABS-CBN’s franchise, and to go after the Philippine Daily Inquirer,” NUJP said in a statement.
NUJP said that while the President has earlier “cursed” and criticized media outfits, “this is the first time he has openly threatened to shut down a media organization by using alleged offenses that have nothing to do with journalism.”
On Thursday, Duterte threatened to block the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise in 2020 because of his accusation that the network did not air a political advertisement that he already paid for. He also said that he would go after the Prieto family, owner of the Inquirer Group of Companies, because of a property leased in Makati.
“By issuing such threats, Mr. Duterte is blatantly dangling the powers of the presidency and of the state, signaling his willingness to use these to stifle freedom of the press and of expression,” NUJP said.
The group said the President was “clearly not joking.”
“Just as he was not joking when he declared human rights and due process anathema to his brand of governance and now, it seems, so are a free and critical media,” NUJP said.
“What we do know is the last time a president actually shut down the press, it did not end well for him, like it almost always never ends well for tyrants,” the group said, alluding to the late President Ferdinand Marcos.
The NUJP also encouraged media organizations to “set aside [their] differences and unite to oppose any and all attempts to silence [them].
“Not to do so is to seal our doom and to betray our role as the Fourth Estate, the people’s watchdogs against bad and abusive governance,” it said. IDL/rga
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