Feb. 17, 2019

The decision of Philstar.com to take down the 2002 article “Influential businessman eyed in ex-councilor’s slay” is an inevitable consequence of this government’s, through the Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation, twisting the law in pursuit of its vindictive agenda to shut down Rappler and intimidate the Philippine media community into meekness. 

When the link to the article – a repost of a story originally published in the Philippine Star newspaper – is clicked, a statement now appears explaining the reason for the takedown: “This was after the camp of Mr. Wilfredo Keng raised the possibility of legal action.”

Though we find the decision unfortunate, we cannot fully fault Philstar.com for its decision after how the very agency supposed to ensure the “effective and efficient administration of justice” has done the opposite to satisfy its principal’s obsession to muzzle critical media. 

“Although laws are not supposed to be applied retroactively, the scope and bounds of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 are still unexplored and the takedown was seen as a prudent course of action,” Philstar.com said. “At this time, it is not clear if any live digital element on the article page outside the 17-year-old article could be used against us.”

We call on the community of independent Filipino journalists to stand firm and resist these brazen attempts to curtail freedom of the press and of expression, freedoms, we stress, that do not belong to us but to the people whose right to know we serve. 

While we are saddened by the takedown, we urge our colleagues at Philstar.com and the Star Group of publications to hold on to the legacy of Betty Go-Belmonte, one of the brave few who put up publications critical of the Marcos dictatorship and helped spark the resurgence of independent journalism when it was dangerous to do so. 

As history has proven, the independent Philippine media cannot be silenced for long. Tyrants may come and go, but the free press will outlast them.

National Directorate
Hotline: +639175155991