ournalists, media groups, and bloggers in different parts of the country are all geared up for the Friday night rally dubbed as the “Black Friday Protest” to condemn the government’s “series of attacks” against press freedom.
The protest, led by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), is the first of the series of actions in “defense of press freedom, freedom of expression and all our other rights and liberties.”
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“Today, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines joins other independent Filipino journalists and media organizations, and freedom-loving Filipinos, as we mount the first Black Friday Protest in defense of press freedom, freedom of expression and all our other rights and liberties that are directly threatened by the very government supposed to defend and uphold these,” NUJP said in a statement on Friday.
The mass action was prompted by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) order to revoke the articles of incorporation of online news outfit Rappler for allegedly violating rules on ownership and the House of Representatives’ move to amend Constitutional provision on free expression.
READ: SEC orders Rappler to shut down
The SEC said that Rappler violated the Constitution as the Philippine depository receipts (PDR) it issued to its foreign investor, U.S.-based Omidyar Network, require the company to seek the investor’s approval on corporate matters.
On the other hand, House Deputy Speaker Fredenil Castro proposed on Tuesday to insert the word “responsible” in Article III, Sec 4 of the Constitution, making it: “No law shall be passed abridging the ‘responsible exercise’ of freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”
The incidents draw wide condemnation from various groups, both local and international. French-based group Reporters sans Frontieres (Reporters without Borders or RSF) called on the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to make a stand on the SEC decision as it is a “flagrant violation of media freedom.”
READ: Int’l journos slam SEC ruling vs Rappler; asks UN, Asean to make a stand
“From the basic law of the land, in which our freedoms and liberties are enshrined, they would turn it into an abomination, an instrument to enslave not to liberate. We resisted and ousted a tyrant who once sought to chain us to a similar fate. We can and should resist any other attempt to do so again,” the NUJP said.
Atty. Jocelyn Clemente, NUJP acting chair, said it is time for journalists to raise their voices and go beyond watching the news unfold.
“When the vestiges of an authoritarian government rear its ugly head, the first casualty is the free press and the people’s right to know. Dictators only want their own narrative let out to the people…that is not good.,” Clemente said in a message to INQUIRER.net.
“What is happening now… it is time [that] journalists raise their voices. Di pwedeng manood lang sa panahong maligalig (We should not just watch in a time of disquiet),” she added.
The rally will be held at 6 p.m., Boy Scout Circle, Timog Avenue, Quezon City. /jpv
The Philippine Daily Inquirer
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