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Journalists decry attacks on press freedom during media forum

In light to the recent revocation of Rappler’s business license, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) organized a roundtable discussion with Davao media last January 27 at the CAP auditorium to talk about the government’s recent ‘attacks’ on press freedom.

“Duterte can wash his hands in Rappler’s case because SEC attacked,” said Awi Cayon of Business Mirror.

Cayon explained that when media criticize the government, the backlash should be expected. The government is said to look for holes in which to implicate and silence the media outlets that are against them.

The media, however, are not entirely blameless.

Grace Uddin of One Radio shared that when the government starts investigating oligarchs and owners of the publications, the journalists are caught in the middle.

“Maipit ang journalists sa problema sa oligarchs inig accuse sa government,” she said.

This practice is also said to cause division from the media practitioners. Journalists cannot expect support from their fellow reporters from fear of “being next.”

According to Kath Cortez of NUJP, the publications have a critical position and should stand against press freedom attacks.

“We have to cover everything, the good and the bad,” she said.

Ging Valle of Davao Today shared that there is a pattern of attacks comparable to the 1972 martial law.

Although similar, the attacks are not sure to have the same results as President Duterte has only been governing the country for a year.

Valle also added that Duterte’s threats to the presses are chilling because he holds a crucial position in the Philippines and whatever he says may be taken as an order.

“Ang message jud sa Rappler kay medyo chilling,” she said.

Despite all the threats focused on the media, Kath Cortez advised the journalists to remain strong and continue their profession as watchdogs of the country.

NUJP plans to organize another roundtable forum with student journalists from school publications around Davao to hear out their opinions and empower them as future journalists of the Philippines.

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