Issue of December 31, 2017
Mt. Province

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NUJP slams Pres Duterte’s claim of journalists as NPAs
by Ofelia C. Empian

The National Union of Journalists in the Philippines slammed President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent remark on members of the media as part of the communist group New Peoples Army.

“President Duterte’s sweeping and, as has often been the case, unsubstantiated claim that some journalists are members or maintain links with communist rebels is a potential death warrant against colleagues,” NUJP chief Nonoy Espina said.  

The statement of Pres. Duterte claiming that some journalists are members of the Left was made in a Dec. 19 radio interview.

“May  alam ako mga journalists na Left talaga. O baka nagkadre doon sa Cordillera,” the President said.

Espina said that there is nothing wrong with journalists to have links” with all sectors, groups, and personalities in and out of government, including the NPA, as news sources.

He said it is “even necessary” to have this links.

“Apologists may again try to make light of Mr. Duterte’s latest drivel, but in a country that remains one of the deadliest in the world for journalists, there is cause to worry about the consequences of this irresponsible claim from the highest elected official of the land,” he added.

“Duterte’s claim directly endangers our colleagues who work in the Cordillera but does the same for those elsewhere in the country,” he said.

Espina said the President’s statement is “bound to cast a chilling effect on journalists” who are covering or intend to cover the communist rebels in continuing efforts to “better explain the roots and directions of the close to half-a-century old civil strife.”

“At worst it would embolden those, including state agents, who seek to silence us by giving them the convenient cover of  counter-insurgency,” he said.

“With this penchant for such wild and dangerous claims added to his well-known aversion to those who do not agree with him, we fear it will not be long until Duterte directly targets the critical media in his government’s efforts to stamp out dissent. We call on the independent Philippine media and Filipinos who cherish our rights and freedoms to stand together in common cause and oppose all attempts to silence us,” Espina said.

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