NUJP slams 'orchestrated effort to intimidate us into silence'
MANILA, Philippines – The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) has slammed allegations of its supposed link to communist rebels as part of an “orchestrated effort” to silence the media watchdog.
“The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines denounces continued efforts to link us to the communist revolutionary movement, which we see as part of an orchestrated effort to intimidate us into silence,” the NUJP said in a statement on Monday, January 7.
The NUJP said it was consulting with legal experts on actions the group may take in relation to the false allegation, which endangers the safety of its members.
“We do serve fair warning though to those behind this campaign: We will hound you and make sure you pay should any harm that may befall our members and other colleagues because of your craven machinations. To this end we are consulting legal experts on possible actions to take,” it said.
The group issued the statement after its officers were sought for interviews by community media on claims of a certain “Ka Ernesto,” who claimed to be a former NUJP member, that the media watchdog had links to Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison.
The NUJP said 3 Manila-based tabloids ran identical headlines quoting “Ka Ernesto” as saying that the NUJP was supposedly headed by the CPP-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front.
The NUJP noted that prior to the allegation, several media outfits ran a story on a similar claim made by a certain Mario Ludades, who claimed to be a CPP founder, that the NUJP was a “legal front” of the CPP.
“It is hilarious that they keep repeating these charges since the NUJP’s membership represents a broad spectrum of creeds and political beliefs bound by a common dedication to defending and expanding the bounds of freedom of the press and of expression. But, as they say, stupid is as stupid does,” it said.
Laughable but dangerous
The NUJP said it was “initially tempted to ignore the fantastic and, to be honest, hilarious account of ‘Ka Ernesto’” but issued the statement to respond to the false allegation because “it exposes our members and other colleagues to potential danger from those who might readily believe this canard.”
“With at least 12 colleagues slain under the watch of a president who has actually justified the murder of journalists – remember ‘Just because you're a journalist you are not exempted from assassination, if you're a son of a bitch?’ – and openly and constantly curses and threatens media, we are taking this matter very, very seriously,” it said.
“It does not take genius to figure out who is behind this determined, if futile, effort to cow us. But we tell you now and will tell you again, do your worst, you will fail,” the NUJP added.
The group also called out those who allowed themselves to be used by people behind the orchestrated effort.
“It is unfortunate that there exist within the profession unscrupulous scum who allow themselves to be used by these cowardly enemies of press freedom even if it endangers colleagues. But we will let them be. Their venality shames them enough,” it said.
Philippine press freedom has been under attack especially during the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, who has openly attacked media groups and personalities seen as not friendly to his administration.
Because of its high number of media killings, the Philippines has been tagged as the deadliest peacetime country for journalists in Southeast Asia, according to the Southeast Asia Media Report, as published by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on December 21, 2018. – Rappler.com