Alternative news orgs file complaints vs state agents before CHR
CMFR/PHILIPPINES – Alternative media organizations on 30 July 2020 filed before the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) complaints against state agents for violating the Constitutional guarantees of press freedom and freedom of information.
Altermidya- People’s Alternative Media Network and its members Bulatlat, Kodao, and Pinoy Weekly called on CHR to investigate the repeated threats and attacks against them by government officials and other state forces and “to hold accountable those who will be found guilty.” The group said that the attacks violate press freedom and the freedom of information of their audiences.
The alternative media network documented under the Duterte administration: one attempted killing, two physical assaults, eight arrests, 28 threats and intimidation, and six other cases of attacks against their ranks.
Some of the cases mentioned in the complaints were the arrest of Frenchie Mae Cumpio, Executive Director of the Leyte-based Eastern Vista newspaper, on February 7; the seizure of copies of Pinoy Weekly on July 26; and, the constant red-tagging by state forces like the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) and Presidential Communications Operations Office undersecretary Lorraine Badoy. Red-tagging, or red-baiting, is the act of publicly linking individuals to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the New People’s Army (NPA) or the National Democratic Front (NDF).
Attacks against the press perpetrated by those in the government are attempts to silence free expression, criticism, and dissent. The continuous threats also impair truth-telling especially when it suppresses the media’s capacity to report information that the government wants to hide from the public.
CMFR has in several instances raised the same alarm. From 30 June 2016 to 30 April 2020, the organization recorded 171 incidents of threats and attacks against the press, 80 of these cases were perpetrated by state agents.
In the same period, CMFR noted a high number of red-tagging cases. Media outfits being red-tagged were usually those who report stories on the marginalized and human rights violations by the police and the military.
While there is a government “media security task force” assigned to probe these cases, incidents that involve state agents also call for independent and biased-free investigation by another institution like CHR.