22 April 2019

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines expresses alarm over The Manila Times article “Oust-Duterte plot bared,” penned by no less that its Chairman Emeritus Dante A. Ang, as dangerous as it lays the ground for more attacks against independent media.

Ang’s story is such a marvel of unethical and amateurish writing. Based on a single anonymous source and a matrix showing a web of threads so tenuous it would not hold up in the slightest breeze, Ang’s piece of claptrap wouldn’t even pass muster at any self-respecting high school publication.

It would, in fact, be funny if the implications of his slanderous naming of journalists and human rights lawyers supposedly involved in this fictitious plot weren’t so dire. In fact, proof that the matrix, the source and the story are hogwash is the fact that former NUJP chair – AND former Times editor – Inday Espina Varona is listed in the matrix as among National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) members. She is neither a lawyer nor connected to the NUPL.

For what Ang has done is no different from the narco-lists his principal, President Rodrigo Duterte, is so fond of trotting out every now and then sans evidence but which often amount to hit lists, death sentences without the benefit of trial. In fact, the source – supposing there was one – and the writer do not even bother to explain the nature of the links, if any, between Vera Files, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism and Rappler on one hand, and the NUPL, on the other except by claiming preposterously that these media outfits and the Left have aligned themselves in a plot to oust Duterte – a tale as old, and as stale, as time.

What we do fear is that this “revelation” could be a prelude to a crackdown against independent media and human rights lawyers.

In light of this, we call on the community of independent Filipino journalists and news outfits to close ranks and resist any attempt to silence the press.

Should any harm come to those he has maligned, Dante Ang should be held just as fully accountable.

Again, we reiterate, history has proven that attempts to silence the independent Philippine press may succeed for a while but, in the end, the truth will out and tyrants will always end up in the dustbin of history.

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