Duterte government unleashes its mad dog

The Duterte government must be desperate. There’s a global condemnation of its order to close down ABS-CBN.

It has unleashed it’s mad dog, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), that went into offensive in social media repeating the lies that government has been spewing about the media giant.

Media groups and concerned citizens are protesting such attempts. Following is our statement:

“We, media groups, news outfits, journalists, and academics, condemn the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) for a black propaganda offensive on social media against ABS-CBN and Rappler CEO Maria Ressa.

“These Facebook posts, while they have been taken down, are a brazenly criminal abuse of authority on the part of the NTF-ELCAC, replete with half-truths and outright lies that willfully endanger Ressa and the management and personnel of ABS-CBN, the network that government shut down.

“The only reason we can think of why a government entity tasked to combat the communist insurgency would wage a propaganda offensive against media persons and outfits is if government now considers us the enemy.

“In fact, Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade, head of the Southern Luzon Command and NTF-ELCAC spokesman, indicated as much. In a May 8 Philippine News Agency report, while insisting that press freedom was alive in this country, also warned critics of the ABS-CBN shutdown: “Yes to law and order! Otherwise you might just get the martial law that you deserve.”

“Worse, the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) aided in the slander by sharing these posts on its own page, although it later took these down,apparently after netizens criticized it on the comments sections.

“While Communications Secretary Martin Andanar issued a statement saying the NTF-ELCAC posts were shared ‘without the usual vetting process of our office’ and were ‘not in any way an official statement or an opinion of the PCOO,’ neither did he apologize for his agency’s involvement nor even promise an investigation to identify those responsible for this reprehensibly irresponsible action.

“We demand that government, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), immediately mount an investigation into who in the NTF-ELCAC were responsible for ordering and creating slanderous posts and who were responsible for ordering and why.

“At a time when our people battle a deadly pandemic, it is unthinkable and unacceptable that there are those in government who are making media repression, not saving lives, as the priority.”

Initial signatories to the statement include the following organizations (Rappler; Philippine Press Institute;Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility;Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism;Mindanews;National Union of Journalists of the Philippines ;NUJP-Eruope;NUJP-Albay;NUJP-Baguio Benguet;NUJP-Europe;NUJP-NCR; NUJP-Samar;Consortium on Democracy and Disinformation; VERA Files; Photojournalists Center of the Philippines; Kodao Productions; Bulatlat; Panay Today; Dampig Katarungan; Panaysayon; Altermidya Network;Northern Dispatch.

Individuals who signed on include: Manny Mogato; Inday Espina-Varona; Marites Vitug;Antonio J. Montalvan II;Eunice Barbara C. Novio;Tony La Viña;John Nery;Noemi L. Dado;Leslie Manalo;Lisa Garcia;Bart Guingona;Al Alegre;Marian Pastor Roces;Gang Badoy;Ramon Tuazon;Ellen Tordesillas;Felipe Salvosa II;Rommel Rutor;Mate Espina;Jes Aznar;Jairo Bolledo, PUP Department of Journalism;Pat S. Roque;Julie Alipala;Raffy Cabristante;Danilo Arao;Jojo Riñoza;JB R Deveza;Tyrone Velez;Frank Cimatu; Ed Lingao;Barnaby Lo;Stanley Buenafe Gajete;Cong Corrales;Herbie Gomez;Stanley Buenafe Gajete.

The views in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of VERA Files.