Press Release – May 3, 2019

Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, +639173162831

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580

2019 WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY

Attacks on journalists and human rights defenders in PH are attacks on the people’s freedom of expression, right to information – Karapatan

In commemoration of the World Press Freedom Day, Karapatan joined journalists from various alternative media groups and activists from people’s organizations in a protest action at the Department of National Defense in Quezon City, to decry what the group called “the Duterte administration’s mad slaughter of people and their rights, including the tokhang (killing) of the people’s freedom of expression and right to information.”

“Press freedom and the people’s freedom of expression are under attack. The Duterte regime is peddling a toxic lie that the full exercise of our civil and political rights is tantamount to a crime; that criticism and raising legitimate demands are criminal acts. We are here to reiterate the legitimacy of people’s actions and that we will continue to speak, act, and advocate in accordance with our conscience and belief, as provided in our basic, fundamental rights. We do not need permission from governments to exercise our rights, and the latter’s actions to constrict us betray their sinister agenda of stifling opposition and silencing public clamor for justice,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.

“State security forces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are on a rampage, instigating and justifying extrajudicial killings in line with their murderous campaigns vis-à-vis the sham drug war and counterinsurgency program. Aided and supported by Duterte’s paid troll executives at the Presidential Communications Operations Office and the rest of the government machinery through their so-called whole of nation approach, they are desperately trying to cover-up their crimes by attempting to muzzle free speech and press freedom. How ironic that we are commemorating World Press Freedom Day in the context of increased repression and rampant violations against the freedom of expression,” Palabay added.

The group said that aside from the judicial harassment against Rappler, among the cases of violations against freedom of expression and right to information in the Philippines are as follows:

· The terrorist-labelling and vilification campaign against the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines;

· The well-funded and coordinated cyber-attacks against alternative news sites of Bulatlat, Kodao, Altermidya and Pinoy Weekly, as well as websites of Karapatan, Ibon Foundation and Bayan;

· The toxic vilification and threats against Karapatan and other human rights defenders, online and offline; and

· Killings and judicial harassment through the filing of trumped-up charges against human rights defenders and activists.

The Karapatan leader said that “dictators cannot tolerate dissent. The dangerous tagging of human rights defenders and journalists as “terrorists” are part of a convoluted and orchestrated effort to falsely discredit groups and individuals, and evade any form of investigation and accountability processes. Duterte, his minions at PCOO and officials of the PNP and the AFP are further engendering a climate of impunity in the Philippines, perpetrating unabated human rights violations amid a growing opposition to the government’s crimes and anti-people policies.”

“We will not be surprised if the cyber-attacks against online news platforms and websites of activist organizations, traced to a private company, may later turn out to be funded by the government. These targeted online attacks did not come from nowhere, and it is not a coincidence that these have been instigated in consonance with the other forms of vilification and attacks,” Palabay said.

“We note however that a government’s desperation to cling on to power is measured by the extent of the attacks against sources, documenters and messengers of facts, evidence, stories, and expressions of political dissent. What it always neglects to consider is the capacity of peoples to fight back and exact accountability,” Palabay concluded.

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PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
publicinfo@karapatan.org
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Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District
Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146
Web: http://www.karapatan.org/

KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.