The Duterte gov’t will pay for its crimes against press freedom and human rights

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THE DUTERTE government is the biggest threat to the people’s right to press freedom, freedom of expression and other human rights. It uses the entire coercive power of the state to attack and quell the independent press and these attacks are instigated and led by the madman in Malacañang Palace himself.

Today, May 3, as the country observes World Press Freedom Day, members of the alternative media condemn the nightmarish Duterte government for its crimes against our ranks and against the Filipino people.

Since December last year, sustained distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks have been unleashed against Bulatlat, Kodao, Pinoy Weekly, Altermidya, and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, as well as websites of activist organizations Anakpawis Party, Arkibong Bayan, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Bayan Muna, Gabriela Women’s Party, Human Rights Online, IBON Foundation, Karapatan, and the National Democratic Front. Sweden-based digital rights group Quirium has identified two information technology companies, IP Converge and Suniway, as the source of the ongoing cyberattacks aimed at taking down our websites. We have filed cases against these two entities and we expect this to go to trial very soon. We believe that these entities are acting in behalf of masterminds (the real cyber-assassins) who are probably state forces.

Earlier, Altermidya journalists have been arrested for covering the NutriAsia labor strike in Bulacan. Journalists from Altermidya-member outfits have also been red-tagged and, like many other independent journalists, have been vilified online by paid trolls using social media accounts created to defend this rotten government.

Other independent media outfits and journalists suffer all forms of attacks from this regime. Recently, the Office of the President admitted that the so-called matrix of destabilizers, including Vera Files, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, Rappler, and Bulatlat columnist Danilo Arao as well as the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers came from Pres. Duterte himself. Earlier, ABS-CBN and the Philippine Daily Inquirer have been threatened by Duterte, who said also said that these outfits should agree to be his government’s federalism drive mouthpieces.

We accuse Duterte for instigating these attacks against press freedom and the people’s right to know. Even before he assumed power, he has already justified the killing of journalists. After ranting madly in his speeches, worsening attacks, harassments and vilification are then launched against the independent press. These attacks go hand-in-hand against the killings of activists, farmers, indigenous peoples, lawyers, church people and many others on top of the unjust arrests and filing of trumped up charges in a grand scheme called the whole-of-nation approach to quell legitimate dissent.

Today, Altermidya and the Filipino people are here before the general headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to indict it and the Duterte regime as enemies of press freedom and human rights. The AFP is one of Duterte’s leading peddlers of lies and fake news. It red-tags journalists and activists, many of whom are later unjustly arrested or, worse, summarily killed.

No tyrant has ever succeeded in completely silencing legitimate dissent and independent voices. In the Philippines, the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship and the immoral Joseph Estrada presidency — both of which has attacked the Philippine press — were in fact ousted from office. Soon, the nightmare who is Rodrigo Roa Duterte and his bloody tentacles—lieutenants in the government, his online troll army, and the military and police — will end.

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