[Statement] Defend Rappler. Defend free press -PAHRA

Defend Rappler. Defend free press

 

The attack against the media is an affront to press freedom.

The decision of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to revoke Rappler’s registration for allegedly violating the constitutional restrictions on ownership and control of mass media entities is a blatant effort to silence the media for its critical reporting against the government.

The SEC’s kill order against Rappler came as no surprise. Since last year, President Rodrigo Duterte already accused Rappler of being fully owned by American companies and threatened to investigate its ownership during his 2017 State of the Nation Address (SONA). It was not the first time that Duterte tried to arm twist the media he felt uncomfortable with. The Inquirer first took the beating when the Prietos were forced to sell their ownership to Dominguez – a known ally of the President. Duterte has also attacked the ABS-CBN for allegedly failing to air his campaign ads, and for reporting allegations on his bank accounts. He even blackmailed to revoke its license if the network will not help promote his campaign to shift to a federal form of government.

Despite the assurance of Malacanang that it is nothing political but it goes straight from the horse’s mouth. The President himself has made no pretense of his knee-jerk reaction toward critical voices. But making his threat to silence media with arm-twisting in the guise of protecting the public interest is nothing but a tyrannical whiplash. Taming the media as part of a broader move to weaken the checks and balances in a democratic society as it does with other independent institutions such as the judiciary is a Marcosian lure to authoritarian rule.

Free press is a human right. It is enshrined under the Philippine Constitution and guaranteed by international human rights laws. It is the public safeguard against any forms of government abuses. Any attempt to stifle it, be it physical, legal or political violates human rights. That freedom belongs to all of us. The right to freedom of the press goes hand in with our right to be informed, to express our opinions without fear and to freely participate in public discourse that are affecting our lives. The attack against the media is therefore inimical to democracy as it infringes to our right to information and undermining our meaningful participation towards good governance.

The Philippine Alliance of Human Right Advocates therefore stands with Rappler and all media groups in defense of press freedom and the right to information. We believe that the media can only fulfill its role of empowering the public to hold the government accountable without any political interference.

While Rappler can exhaust all legal means to challenge SEC’s kill order, but it is only through our collective voices that we can protect not only the messenger but most importantly the message – “it is our right and no one can take it away from us.”

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