The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines calls out agencies of the state’s security apparatus for attacking press freedom to the extent of equating calls for its protection with terrorism.

We specifically call out the Malaybalay City Police Station and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.

The Malaybalay police, through a poster on its Facebook page on July 15 but taken down as soon as protests were raised about it, basically equated calls protesting the closure of ABS-CBN and for the defense of press freedom with terrorism.

The poster showed a collage of people from progressive organizations holding signs calling for the defense of press freedom and ABS-CBN, which has been denied a congressional franchise to operate.

“Malalaman mong sila ay para sa TERORISMO. Papatulan lahat ng isyu, Basta laban sa GOBYERNO,” a text in the poster claimed above the call, “No to rebellion, No to terrorism.”

Colleagues from Northern Mindanao say the same poster was also shared in the Viber account for reporters covering Police Regional Office 10 and has also been removed after journalists called it out.

On the other hand, the NTF-ELCAC shared six posters on its Facebook page that it also added to an album called “Dismiss Disinformation,” described as “a Presidential Communications Operations Office ( PCOO ) initiated campaign in the ongoing fight against fake news.”

The series of posters show pictures of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and BBC journalist Stephen Sackur with quotes picked from their June 25 one-on-one. The accompanying text in the post accused Ressa of spreading “inaccuracies and misinformation about the Philippine government here and in the international arena” and how the “professional and ethical” Sackur refuted Ressa’s “false claims about the Philippine government.”

Although the post does not link Ressa to the communist rebel movement, that a government counterinsurgency body chose to attack her on its official social media account betrays how the government views criticism and dissent, and also potentially puts her in danger.

Recently, the NTF-ELCAC also released posts explaining why ABS-CBN did not deserve a franchise and also accusing Ressa of spreading “fake news” about the network in an interview with Australian media.

This mindset of the armed services who are supposedly sworn to protect, not persecute, us bolsters fears about how the Anti-Terror Law may be potentially abused.

We demand that the government orders its security forces to respect freedom of the press and of expression.

We also demand that any and all such attacks on the media and on journalists be swiftly investigated and sanctions meted on those responsible.


National Directorate