Threats to the media only incite unrest

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The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) has defended the right of journalists in the country to do their job without wrestling with the fear of death threats from supporters of either side of the issues they report about.

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“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,” the NUJP said in a statement released on Monday.

The group was referring to the case of Reuters correspondents Karen Lema and Manuel Mogato, who were accused by netizens of “deliberately misreporting” remarks made by President Rodrigo Duterte regarding the killings under his anti-drug campaign and the deaths of millions of Jews during the time of Hitler.

As the NUJP explained, some of the posts on Facebook and other places said that “malicious and irresponsible journalists are the true enemies of democracy” and that “they should be punished with the full force of the law.”

The President himself complained about being taken out of context, but nevertheless, apologized to the Jewish people who were offended by the remarks.

Those who publicly bullied the two Reuters reporters are not doing a service to the President they profess to support, and in fact, are acting contrary to his request to his supporters not to harm journalists and allow them to do their work of independently reporting on the activities of his government. The NUJP also took note of this unfortunate contradiction.

All journalists have a responsibility to carry out their job in a professional, accurate and unbiased manner. If errors are made, they should be acknowledged and corrected.

What the two unfortunate Reuters reporters are being persecuted for, however – even to the alarming extent that they have been receiving death threats – is deliberate misreporting, which, to people in the industry who know these two personally, is not the case.

There is a difference between pointing out an error or challenging a conclusion from clear facts, and threatening to kill someone for simply doing his or her job. The latter is a criminal act, the NUJP asserted, and we strongly agree with that.

At this time when there is so much tension in the country among various sectors of society, the unruly behavior of supposed supporters of President Duterte only aggravates an already stressful situation. No one’s interests are served by crude attempts to bully the press into silence out of fear of reporting that may be unfavorable, least of all the government, whose leader has already suggested – unfortunately to deaf ears, as the NUJP lamented – that a free press is both welcome and necessary for the country to progress as he envisions.

The government has a responsibility to conduct its affairs and carry out its programs in an open, transparent manner. The media has a responsibility to provide timely information and analysis in a thorough, objective, and accurate way. And the public has a responsibility to read, listen, watch, and learn in a thoughtful way, and express support or dissent in a constructive manner.

We agree with the NUJP’s observation that many who have benefited from the Philippines’ freedom of expression would now seek to restrict it. The alarming treatment of Karen Lema and Manuel Mogato by some members of the public should not be tolerated, because it only breeds mistrust and division at a time when the country is undergoing significant changes, some of them stressful changes, and needs greater unity.

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10 Comments

  1. Yonkers, New York
    05 October 2016

    An intelligent, free, independent and courageous Press is a serious inconvenience if not an actual threat to a tyrannical and lawless regime such as that of Little Tyrant Rodrigo Duterte’s who is now engaged in the warrantless genocidal drive has netted a total of 3,000 hapless victims.

    As he has vowed, “corrupt” [by his own definition, of course] journalists deserve to be killed [murdered} by him, and their carcasses tied at the end of a rope hanged from an acacia tree–preferably on Taft Avenue for all people to see.

    That should strike fear not only into the hearts and minds of journalists, whether corrupt or not, but also to publishers of newspapers like the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Philippine Star, The Manila Times, The Manila Bulletin, the Philippine Starndard, the Malaya Business Insight and also the local newspapers–and also the radio and television stations.

    None will be spared by this Little Tyrant of a President–not one of those who dare to criticize not only his uncouth and foul tongue in a garbage-and excreta-laden mouth, but even those who criticize his domestic and foreign policies which are obviously ANTI-AMERICA and PRO-CHINA AND -RUSSIA.

    The perceptive magazine, TIME, recently lamented that “NIGHT HAS FALLEN ON THE PHILIPPINES.” This could be a long dark night lasting six years–if this Little Tyrant is not driven out of office one way or the other before six years.

    MARIANO PATALINJUG.
    patalinjugmar@gmail.com

  2. Roberta R. Lim on

    Journalists can dish it out, but they can’t take it. What you sow is what you reap. It’s as simple as that.

  3. The Union of Journalist has gone mad! They should police themselves and gag their members on reporting unverified report. They failed the Filipino people. Imagine the press feasting on every word comes out of Matobato for instance. They thought they are doing good but they are not. The people have seen how crooked the mainstream media and this Union have not even raised a finger on censuring them to verify the facts. Imagine a criminal accusing the President and they all would feast on it without verifying and ascertaining the credibility of the criminal. Is this we call balance and fair journalism? Majority of the Filipino people that it is trash and this union therefore is a bunch of trash. BASURA! Presstitutes!

  4. ” All journalists have a responsibility to carry out their job in a professional, accurate and unbiased manner. If errors are made, they should be acknowledged and corrected. ”

    BS. Reporters and journalists only react to what their producers or editors say, no matter what ‘prompted’ the reaction. This implies and all but guarantees that the journalist inject their networks or their own bias into what they report.

  5. So what it is to stop irresponsible and corrupt media?

    Take the disinformation and outright lies of PDI, DT, abante, the dirty and extremely bad fads and negative ideas promoted by local tv-nets for their ads. Do the readers, viewers have no right express anger and indignation for these extreme disinformation, whose purpose is to topple down the government who is trying to clean up the nation? These are the payola media, a tool of the evil forces – liars trying to sabotage and destroy our attempt to rebuild a nation.

    Who are more evil the lying congressmen and senators, the oligarchs, the cartels and smugglers, the greedy blood sucking businesses, or these paid reporters-liars. All of them are partners in crime. The root of misery in this country.

    If we are to build our country all these evils have to be eliminated.

    There is nothing respectable to a cheap liar who earns his living by fooling the people.

    It is up to the reporter who is used to payola to mend his ways, or he has to go – by any means.

  6. I believe majority of Journalists are trust worthy. What they write stay on record. That is why Journalists should be given protection.

  7. Surely reporting news means the facts are reported? Far too often, I find, in my opinion, that reporters are brash with their personal views. Who asked them for their personal views? Probably the anchorman. Stick to the facts of the case, and don’t stir the pot with personal reflections. Just thinking out loud.

  8. So many biased media, even at the local level. We have the ACDC (attack and collect, defend and collect). Clean up your ranks – discipline your members, and replace that KBP – useless yan!

  9. It is the biased and irresponsible reporters that “CAUSES UNREST” … twisting and sensationalizing facts to please their benefactors (whose GREED for POWER & MONEY never ends) !!!