(Photo: Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, chief of Armed Forces of the Philippines. Screenshot from RTVM/ Inquirer.net)
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines is aghast at AFP chief Cirilito Sobejana’s suggestion that Inquirer.net‘s Tetch Torres-Tupas bears the “burden of denial” against the false accusations of Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade. Jr.
It is also dangerous for him to pick up Parlade’s twisted logic and dangerously equate journalism, or the mere act of writing a news report, with the journalist’s supposed “sympathy.”
This is victim-blaming pure and simple and attempts to create a legal fiction that both accuser and accused have an equal responsibility.
No Sir, the burden of proof is ALWAYS on the accuser.
We would like to remind the good General Sobejana that Parlade not only bore false witness against our colleague, as he has done with so many others, he even presented false evidence against her while, at the same time, red-tagging what he wrongly claimed were the sources for the article he found offense with – international watchdog Human Rights Watch and alternative media outfit Kodao Productions.
To be honest, we saw your appointment as cause for optimism given your reputation as a straight shooter, a soldier’s soldier.
And we saw this manifest when you ordered the Provost Marshall to investigate Parlade’s social media posts.
Why this seeming turnaround?
Surely, Parlade’s behavior constitutes conduct unbecoming and deserves an “Alright, Sir?” challenge.
And didn’t you say the way to victory is to make friends? Why then do you seem to agree with this unnecessary creation of enemies?
Gen. Sobejana, Sir, a democratic society is NOT a military organization where everyone is expected to obey without question.
Freedom of expression and of thought, along with criticism and dissent, may seem messy but they are the elements without which democracy cannot exist.
And it was our democracy that you and the men and women of our armed services vowed to defend, was it not?
Please, Sir, Gen. Sobejana, do not prove us wrong.