Threatening journalists is criminal — NUJP

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/03 Oct) — Saying it has become common and alarming, a media group on Monday said it was worried “over the continued vilification of media and attempts to lay the predicate to muzzle freedom of the press and of expression.”

In a statement, the National Union of Journalists said that two more journalists have been threatened for a story that “does not sit well with people who consider criticism on President Rodrigo Duterte a violation of their article of faith”.

NUJP emphasized that while journalists are not immune from criticism and will always welcome it in order to enrich public discourse, “threatening journalists when their reportage is disagreeable or erroneous is criminal, as is helping spread these threats, especially if any harm should befall the subjects of such opprobrium”.

It said the attack was directed against veteran Reuters reporters Manny Mogato and Karen Lerma, who were accused of being “malicious and irresponsible journalists” and “the true enemies of democracy” for allegedly misreporting President Rodrigo Duterte’s “Hitler” comments.

The attack, which began as an anonymous post on the GRPundit section of the GetRealPhilippines site, called for punishing Mogato and Lerma “with the full force of the law”.

“…As if journalism is a crime,” NUJP said.

“In a short while, it has become a meme featuring the photos of our colleagues that has been widely circulated by the President’s followers, often with added comments expanding on the call for violent punitive action, and calling for controls on freedom of the press and of expression,” it said.

“Mr. Duterte’s injunction to his supporters not to harm journalists and leave them to pursue independent reporting about his government seems to have fallen on deaf ears, drowned by the overflowing zeal of an army of social media warriors who are quick to deflect the slips in judgment and pronouncements he has made as if he is infallible,” it noted.

The group lamented that among those who have joined an “online lynching mob” are people who have worked in media, performing arts and activists “who would not have been able to thrive if not for the very same freedom of the press and of expression they are now suggesting should be suppressed”.

”We stand by Manny Mogato and Karen Lema, and all other colleagues facing threats and other pressures because of the work they do, and are sure that all colleagues who take pride in the profession and serving the people’s right to know will do the same even as they continue to carry on their duties despite the risks and dangers they face,” it said.

On Friday, Duterte said that if Adolf Hitler had murdered millions of Jews, he would be happy to kill 3 million drug users and pushers in the country.

“There are 3 million drug addicts (in the Philippines). I’d be happy to slaughter them.

“If Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have …You know my victims. I would like (them) to be all criminals to finish the problem of my country and save the next generation from perdition.”

Duterte’s reference to the victims of the Holocaust drew flak from Jewish groups and the international community.

The president on Sunday apologized to the Jewish community for his statement, saying he did not intend to dishonor the memory of the Jews who were exterminated by the Germans during World War II. (MindaNews)