THE National Union of Journalists of the Philippines on Monday deplored social media attacks made by supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte on broadcast journalists Gretchen Malalad and Al Jazeera correspondent Jamela Alindogan-Caudron who were only reporting the ongoing war on drugs.
“We call on Communications Secretary Martin Andanar to immediately cause an investigation and take action against the open threats against Ms. Malalad and Ms. Alindogan-Caudron, and to do its utmost to ensure that none of these are carried out,” Ryan Rosauro, NUJP chairman, said in a statement.
“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.”
Several supporters of the President over social media undermined the credibility of Malalad and Alindogan-Caudron after they wrote articles critical to the administration’s war against drugs.
Malalad, in particular, helped Indian journalist Rishi Iyengar, who wrote about the “tragic cost” on the anti-drug campaign led by President Rodrigo Duterte.
In the September issue, the grim image is accompanied by the caption “Night Falls On the Philippines,” detailing the trajectory of the so-called war on drugs in the cover story.
Alindogan-Caudron, meanwhile, wrote about the Filipino couple who were hired as vigilante killers by the local police.
Because of their work, the two journalists gained the ire of Duterte’s rabid supporters, calling them paid hacks, and worse, asking for them to get raped and their families to contract cancer.
“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,” Rosauro said.
“We also urge all our colleagues to report any and all threats directed against you for your work that these may be properly documented and referred to the appropriate law enforcement bodies for action.”
The group also called on the Duterte administration to stop blaming media for the flak Palace media minders after Duterte makes statements.
“We also 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.”
“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.”
“We will continue to do so and to oppose any attempts to stifle press freedom, a freedom that, incidentally, does not belong to us but to the people, whose right to know that freedom serves.”