February 20, 2018
Shame on President Rodrigo Duterte for displaying extreme pettiness in ordering Rappler reporter Pia Ranada banned from entering Malacañang Palace a day after his fair-haired boy, Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go, accused the news outfit and the Philippine Daily Inquirer of producing “fake news” about his alleged involvement in the controversial frigate acquisition deal and deigned suggest they report about “good things.”
Duterte’s belligerence no longer surprises us.
But the depth to which he can stoop to unleash the awesome power of his office against individuals with whom he disagrees is, to say the least, appalling and extremely unbecoming of his office. He has acted much like petulant child throwing a fit.
More disturbing, however, is that Duterte’s peevishness displays a sinister side of his persona that does not bode well at all for the already uncertain health and future of democracy in our benighted country.
Once again, we are faced with a leader who apparently sees his position as an entitlement that extends to those closest to him, one who has shown no qualms about openly wishing to silence dissent and criticism, accusing the independent press of fakery when their accurate reportage of his actions and utterances – a number of which have been later established to be outright canards or statements bordering on the criminal – boomerang on him.
It is bad enough when the Senate allows itself to be used as a platform for Go to rail against media instead of getting to the bottom of serious allegations on matters affecting national security, for which we also say, shame on you.
But when the highest official in the land chooses to wage a personal vendetta against an individual, whether a journalist or a media outfit, it sends a clear and chilling signal that everyone else better report only what he wants you to or else.
This, to say the least, is anathema to democracy. But then again, hasn’t he openly bragged about being – or wanting to be – a dictator?
Nevertheless, we are heartened by the certainty that no self-respecting and independent Filipino journalist will allow this outright assault on press freedom and the people’s right to know from the president himself pass unchallenged.
We call on all colleagues to unite and reject this outrage and to continue resisting all attempts to dictate what we can and should report.
We owe this to our profession, we owe this to the people, we owe this to the nation.
Atty. Jocelyn Clemente, Acting Chair
Ms. Dabet Panelo, Secretary General
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