Tag Archives: Free Press

[Statement] FIND condemns the enforced disappearance of journalist and human rights defender Margarita Valle

The Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) condemns in the strongest possible terms the enforced disappearance of journalist and human rights defender Margarita Valle.

On 9 June 2019, her son Rius Valle posted the following on Facebook: “Margarita Valle, 61 years old, my mother, was illegally arrested today by members of PNP in Laguindingan Airport for an unknown reason. She was set to go home after attending a training-workshop in Pagadian City and about to board a plane to Davao when the arrest happened. We have now lost all communications with her and we don’t know her whereabouts…She made a last minute call during her arrest and she was told that she will be brought to CIDG for interrogation.”

All elements of enforced disappearance, which are clearly defined under R. A. 10353 or the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Act of 2012, were clearly present in the case of Valle:
• Deprivation of liberty
• Committed by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State
• Refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person

The law purposely does not set a minimum period of time for a person to be missing in order for a case to be considered one of enforced disappearance. As what Ms. Valle’s family and friends can now attest to, it does not matter if the period of disappearance is relatively short, it causes tremendous pain and anxiety just the same. Additionally, a minute of enforced disappearance can easily stretch into days, then weeks, months, years. This could very well have been the case with Ms. Valle had she not had the presence of mind to make that last minute call and had there not been widespread public outcry and clamor for her release.

Ms. Valle’s experience saw violations of R. A. 10353, foremost of which are of the following provisions:

• The right against enforced disappearance is non-derogable. The law states that it shall not be suspended under any circumstance including political instability, the threat of war, state of war or other public emergencies.

Even given that it is true that her case was that of mistaken identity, the person the police actually meant to take into custody should not be made to disappear.

• Right of access to communication. Under the law, it shall be the absolute right of any person deprived of liberty to have immediate access to any form of communication available in order for him or her to inform his or her family, relative, friend, lawyer or any human rights organization on his or her whereabouts and condition.

Ms. Valle had a mobile phone with her but in an article posted on 10 June 2019 at newsinfo.inquirer.net, she was quoted as saying, “…For so many hours, from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, I have no contact with my family since they took my cellphone. That by itself is a violation,” she said. She was absolutely right. Not only was she not given “immediate access to any form of communication”, but her means of communication was also actually taken away from her.

According to FIND Co-chairperson Nilda L. Sevilla, “Before the enactment of R. A. 10353, we human rights defenders lobbied steadfastly for 16 years for an anti-enforced disappearance law that will protect all persons from enforced disappearance under any and all circumstances. However, we are all aware that a law is only as good as its implementation. Ms. Valle’s experience is undeniable proof that the law is not at all being fully nor strictly implemented. If it were, she would not have had to undergo the horrors she went through in the hands of the police.”

FIND Advocacy Officer Celia Sevilla called for an impartial and thorough investigation, adding that, “There are still provisions under R. A. 10353 that can and should be implemented in the case of Ms. Valle: perpetrators should be held accountable and penalized under the law, and Ms. Valle should be provided immediately with the reparation she wishes to avail herself of and to which she is legally entitled.”

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[From the web] OPINION: Why no one should buy PNP’s claim of “mistaken identity” in journo arrest -ABS-CBN news

There are many what if’s – most of them dreadful – surrounding the Sunday (June 9) arrest of veteran Mindanao journalist and development worker Fidelina Margarita “Gingging” Avellanosa-Valle.

A brief rundown of the case: Shortly past 11 a.m, journalists got an alert posted from Valle’s son, Rius, the Mindanao spokesperson of the Save Our Schools Network. He said police had nabbed his mother at the Laguindingan Airport as she was about to board a plane back to Davao City, after giving a writing workshop in Pagadian City for the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP).

Rius said Margarita, a writer for community and national news outfits and author of books and research papers since the 1980s, had managed to call a religious sister. She identified the arresting officers as members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).

Mindanews’ Carolyn Arguillas would later quote Sister Mila Gimeno of the Missionaries of the Assumption (MA) recounting Margarita’s message and hearing the journalist arguing for her rights. From the sounds heard in the background, force was used, the nun said.

Read more @news.abs-cbn.com

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[In the news] CIDG frees journalist, admitting ‘case of mistaken identity’ -INQUIRER.net

Valle’s full name is Fedelina Margarita Avellanosa Valle. She was mistaken for Elsa Renton — also known as Tina Maglaya and Fidelina Margarita Valle.

Renton, a suspected member of the communist movement, is the subject of a 2006 arrest warrant for arson and a 2011 arrest warrant for multiple murder with quadruple frustrated murder and damage to government property.

These details were provided by Virginia Pestañas, a member of Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), which coordinated with the CIDG for Valle’s release.

Click the link to read more:

CIDG frees journalist, admitting ‘case of mistaken identity’

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[Statement] RED TAGGING: Hands off NUJP-Cagayan de Oro member Cong Corrales and family -NUJP

RED TAGGING: Hands off NUJP-Cagayan de Oro member Cong Corrales and family
February 22, 2019

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines deplores the inclusion of our member and former director Cong Corrales, his wife and son in an anonymous list naming alleged members of the Communist Party of the Philippines in Cagayan de Oro.

The list also includes religious, lawyers and groups working for human rights and the welfare of the lumad.

There is nothing more cowardly and deplorable than to vilify persons and put them in mortal peril behind the cloak of anonymity.

And as has happened all too often, Red tagging is not mere intimidation. All too often it can be a virtual death sentence.

Even media have not been spared from Red-tagging and other acts clearly intended to intimidaye a critical press into silence, as with the ongoing vilification campaign against the NUJP and the cyberattacks on alternative media.

National Directorate
Hotline +639175155991

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[Statement] BALAOD Statement on the Arrest of Rappler CEO, Maria Ressa

BALAOD Statement on the Arrest of Rappler CEO, Maria Ressa

BALAOD Mindanaw, Inc. denounces the unjust arrest of Maria Ressa, Chief Executive Officer of Rappler, by the National Bureau of Investigation at its headquarters last 13th of February 2019 pursuant to the alleged violation of Sec. 4(C)(4) of Republic Act No. 10175 otherwise known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act.

Section 22, Article III of the 1987 Philippine Constitution provides that no ex post facto law shall be enacted. One definition of an ex post facto law refers to such law making an action done before the passing of the law and which was innocent when done criminal, and punishes such action. Nullum crimen nulla poena sine lege. It is a well-founded principle in criminal law that there can be no crime when there is no law that defines and punishes it. Furthermore, lex prospicit, non respicit. The law looks forward not backward.

The arrest was founded on charges filed by the Department of Justice last May 2012 over a published article pertaining to the alleged illegal drugs and human trafficking cases of a certain businessman Wilfredo Keng. However, the specific act complained of was clearly done prior to the passage of the Cybercrime Prevention Act in September 2012. Therefore, there can be no crime committed at the time because there was no law prohibiting the act.

Lastly, Section 7, Article III of the 1987 Philippine Constitution recognizes the right of the people to information on matters of public concern. Consequently, this right includes the recognition of press freedom as an important and vital factor in a democratic country. The issuance of the warrant of arrest is a pronounced wonder as to how the court acquired jurisdiction over the matter when there was no violation of the law in the first place. However, the insistence of Ressa’s arrest created doubt as to whether or not the arrest was motivated for political reasons considering that the issue stemmed from the publication of the media conveying to the public certain information relating to graft and corrupt practices in the country.

We, BALAOD Mindanaw, call on the public to #DefendPressFreedom!

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[Statement] The Alternative Law Groups condemns the unjust arrest of journalist Maria Ressa

Statement of the Alternative Law Groups on the unjust arrest of journalist Maria Ressa

The Alternative Law Groups condemns the unjust arrest of journalist Maria Ressa early Wednesday evening, February 13.

Ressa, CEO and executive director of Rappler, was arrested by officers from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) at the Rappler headquarters in Pasig City.

The arrest was in connection with a cyber libel case filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) over an investigative report published in May 2012, or months before the cybercrime law was enacted. The story in question linked businessman Wilfredo Keng to illegal activities such as human trafficking and drug smuggling and his supposed unethical lending of a sport-utility vehicle to former Chief Justice Renato Corona.

It is a basic principle in criminal law that there is no crime if there is no law punishing it.
The 1987 Philippine Constitution prohibits ex post facto law, therefore, an act which was
not a crime when committed cannot be penalized by a succeeding law. When the
article subject of the DOJ case was published online, there was no cyberlaw in the
Philippines criminalizing such act.

Ressa spent the night in the custody of the NBI after Pasay Metropolitan Trial Court Executive Judge Allan Ariola refused to accept the bail despite having the power to do so under Rule 114 Section 17 of the rules of the court.

Bail is a matter of right. It is a constitutionally guaranteed right. It is only in certain
instances when this right should be denied of, such as when there is conviction, for an
offense punishable by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment. The case of Ressa does not fall under the exceptions.

It must be noted that Ressa is not yet convicted of cyber libel. Moreover, cyber libel is not punishable by death, reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment. Therefore, by logical conclusion, Ressa is entitled to bail as a matter of right.

This is the sixth time Ressa has posted bail for one charge in about two months. The insistence of the Duterte administration to arrest Ressa amounts to nothing short of curtailing the freedom of speech and the press. This despicable move may result to a chilling effect among critics who continue to point out wrongdoings in the government.

A free press is an indispensable part of democracy. An independent and critical media serve as the public’s watchdog of a corrupt and crooked government. They hold those in power accountable and empower the public through the pursuit of truthful information.

We call on the public and civil society to join the resistance against any type of efforts in silencing the press!

#DefendPressFreedom

———–

The Alternative Law Groups (ALG) is a coalition of legal resource non-governmental organizations that adhere to the principles and values of alternative or developmental law.

These organizations have distinct programs for developmental legal assistance that is primarily concerned with the pursuit of public interest, respect for human rights and promotion of social justice.

Ateneo Human Rights Center
BALAOD Mindanaw
Environmental Legal Assistance Center, Inc. – ELAC
EnGendeRights
ERDA Foundation, Inc.
KAISAHAN
Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center
PANLIPI (TANGGAPANG PANLIGAL NG KATUTUBONG PILIPINO)
Philippine Earth Justice Center, Inc.
Process Foundation Panay,inc
Rainbow Rights Philippines
SALIGAN
Tanggol Kalikasan Inc.
Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau – WLB

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[Statement] Pahayag ng Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) sa Pagkaka Aresto kay Maria Ressa ng Rappler

Pahayag ng Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) sa Pagkaka Aresto kay Maria Ressa ng Rappler

Malinaw na ang pag aresto sa isang mamahayag dahil sa paggampan ng kanyang tungkulin ay gawain ng isang Duwag at Diktador. Si Maria Ressa ng Rappler ay inaresto sa kasong Cyberlibel na hindi pa naisasabatas noong nangyari ang sinasabing insidente. Maliwanag pa sa araw na pinilit ang kaso sa tangkang siya at ang kanyang mga kasamahan ay patahimikin.

Bago mangyari ang mga ito, ang Rappler ay kritikal at tuloy-tuloy na nag-ulat patungkol sa madugo at brutal na kampanyang “war on drugs” ng gobyernong Duterte, na sa kasalukuyan ay umaabot na sa daang libong naging biktima ng extra-judicial killing (EJK), illegal na pag-aresto, tortyur at ibang uri ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao. Dahil dito, noong 2016, ang Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ay kinuwestyon at hiningi ang mga dokumento ng Rappler upang patunayan na mga Pilipino ang mga nagmamayari nito, salungat sa pahayag ni Duterte na mga dayuhan. Ang kanilang license to operate ay pansamantalang binawi. Hindi pa nakuntento, di pinayagang makapag cover sa Palasyo ng Malacanan ang kanilang mga mamahayag. Inanunsyo din ng gobyerno na iimbestigahan ang Rappler sa kadahilanang hindi pagbayad ng $2.5m na buwis.

Maliban sa Rappler, nauna nang tinarget ni Duterte ang Philippine Daily Inquirer na pangunahing naglabas ng “Kill List”, na layuning idokumento ang mga pangalan ng mga biktima ng EJK. Hindi rin nakaligtas ang ABS-CBN, na binantaang hindi papayagang muling mag renew ng kanilang prangkisa.

Si Duterte ay determinadong kontrolin ang mga balita at itago ang kototohanan – ang patuloy na EJKs, ang korupsyon sa gobyerno at ang pagnanasa niyang maging diktador.

Ang Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) ay muling naninindigan na ang karapatan sa malayang pagpapahayag ay isa sa mga karapatang pantaong nakasaad sa Article 19 ng Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Ito rin ay ginagarantiya ng ating Saligang Batas, Article III Section 4. Ito ay ilan lang sa mga pamantayang dapat irespeto, pangalagaan at isakatuparan bilang obligasyon ng ating pamahalaan. Subalit imbes na ito ay protektahan, lantarang ang paglabag dito ng gobyernong Duterte.

Hindi lamang pag-aresto kay Ressa at iba pang mga kritiko ang nagaganap. Bagkus patuloy pa rin ang mga pananakot, pagbabanta at pagpatay sa mga lider komunidad at tagapagtanggol ng karapatang pantao. Ito ay bahagi ng isang disenyo ng gobyernong Duterte na maikubli ang katotohanan, at ipagpatuloy kabuktutan ng rehimeng ito.

Hindi akma sa panahong ito ang pananahimik. Bagkus, patuloy na ipahayag ang wasto, manindigan sa katotohanan at ilantad ang mga kasinungalingan upang hindi manaig ang karahasan at kasamaan.

Kung di tayo kikibo, sino ang kikibo? Kung hindi tayo kikilos, sino ang kikilos?
Lumaban, Huwag Matakot!

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[Statement] Maria Ressa’s arrest, Duterte’s way to sweep truth defenders out of his way -TFDP

Maria Ressa’s arrest, Duterte’s way to sweep truth defenders out of his way

Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) calls the arrest of Maria Ressa by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) an outright government persecution and harassment of human rights defenders. It is part of a grand design to resurrect a dictatorship by silencing critics and suppressing truth.

Amid the proliferation of fake information and distortion of human rights, independent media will always be a thorn in the side of a President whose plan is to sweep truth defenders out of his way.

It was a clear harassment because Maria Ressa was charged with cyber libel under the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 or Republic Act No. 10175 because of an alleged libelous Rappler article which was published several months before the said law was enacted on September 12, 2012.

Maria Ressa, Rappler and all those defending truth and human rights among the media, opposition and human rights defenders have earned the ire of Duterte because they expose TRUTH, and it is the main obstacle against his brand of leadership that relies mostly on lies and deception.

We strongly believe and assert that a free press is vital for a strong democracy. A determined and independent media will always be critical to sustaining the rule of law in the country. A free press is important for people to be informed and to participate in a democracy.

Historically, media and journalists were among the institutions and individuals victimized by dictators like the late Ferdinand Marcos when he declared martial law in 1972. Maria Ressa’s arrest is a reminder for us to reflect on one of the reasons why we commemorate the February 25 people power. In 1986, the Filipino people rose as one and loudly declared: Tama Na! Sobra Na! Palitan Na!

At EDSA we declared our abomination for all the violations, the lies, the thievery of a dictatorship.

It is time again to raise our voices against the rising tide of tyranny: Tama Na! Sobra Na! Lumaban na!

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[Statement] Kaisa Ka stands up for Maria Ressa and a Free Press

Kaisa Ka stands up for Maria Ressa and a Free Press

Kaisa Ka stands up for freedom of expression and of the press. Kaisa Ka stands for Maria Ressa, a woman, a journalist, a staunch critic of the Duterte administration.

Kaisa Ka condemns the arrest of Ressa for the alleged commission of cyber libel when the alleged “acts” took place long before the passage of the Cybercrime Law.

The illegal arrest is meant to clip and render mute those who fight against the tyrannical, authoritarian and misogynist Duterte administration. This administration has already owned the Executive branch; coopted the judiciary with its selective application of the law, and has set it sights on media.

Freedom of the press and speech stand for freedom of the people, It is its stoutest weapon. Our Constitution, and all organic laws of all free states provide that “no law shall be passed, abridging the freedom of the press and that no person shall be punished except for an abuse of that freedom”.

Kaisa Ka believes in the best interest of a civilized society to have a full and free discussion of government affairs and have the liberty to comment upon the administration of government and guard against repressive measures. This can only be possible if the press is free to report and inform the public and are not sycophants of those in the halls of power.

We cannot and should not speak in whisper or exist with baited breath from fear of reprisal or censure. Kaisa Ka believes that it is our duty to bring to the bar of public opinion, the conduct of government officials whose exercise of authority is conferred by the people. It is not only our right. It is our duty.

Kaisa Ka is one with every woman, every citizen, activist and human rights defender in protest of this attack to our freedom. Together, we will not be silenced and cowed. We say no to ALL FORMS OF VIOLENCE AND TYRANNY.

Break the culture of silence, violence and impunity! Free Maria Ressa!

Reference: Atty. Virginia Suarez, Chairperson –KAISA KA (0908 8159923)

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[From the web] Politically Motivated Arrest of Philippine Journalist Criminal Libel Case is Latest Attack on Maria Ressa, Rappler -HRW

Politically Motivated Arrest of Philippine Journalist
Criminal Libel Case is Latest Attack on Maria Ressa, Rappler

On Wednesday, Philippine National Bureau of Investigation agents arrested Maria Ressa, the founding editor of news website Rappler, in the latest assault on media freedom by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. The arrest follows a libel case filed against Ressa under the cybercrimes law for a story the website published in 2012.

Rappler called the arrest “baseless” and vowed to “continue to do our jobs as journalists.” Rappler’s award-winning and critical coverage of the administration of Duterte, particularly its murderous “war on drugs,” has again put it in the crosshairs of the government.

The arrest was just the latest in a string of politically motivated cases filed against Ressa and Rappler. Last year, the Department of Justice brought five cases of alleged tax evasion against Ressa. She posted bail after arrest warrants were issued. Earlier, the Securities and Exchange Commission revoked the website’s registration, alleging that foreigners had illegally invested in the company, a charge Rappler denied.

The cases against Ressa and Rappler appear designed not only to intimidate the website, but to eventually shut it down.

The administration, its social media trolls, and government propagandists have launched repeated attacks against Rappler and its staffers, at one point banning one of its reporters, Pia Ranada, from covering the presidential premises.

Ressa’s persecution is part of a broader campaign by the Duterte administration to harass and silence critics not only in the media, but in the legislature, the judiciary, civil society, and the Roman Catholic Church. Senator Leila de Lima, a former Justice Secretary, chairwoman of the Commission on Human Rights, and a fierce Duterte critic, was arrested almost two years ago on fabricated charges.

The Duterte administration’s attacks on such a globally prominent news outlet demand a global response. Governments concerned about the thousands killed in the “drug war” and the media’s ability to report on this and other abuses need to publicly demand Ressa’s release and the dropping of all charges.

For more HRW reporting on Maria Ressa and Rappler, visit: www.hrw.org

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[Statement] Huwag Palupig sa Pang-uusig ng Tirano, Kailangan ng Isang Demokratikong Bayan ang Malayang Pamamahayag -KILUSAN

Huwag Palupig sa Pang-uusig ng Tirano, Kailangan ng Isang Demokratikong Bayan ang Malayang Pamamahayag

Mariing kinokondena ng Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KILUSAN) ang pagsampa ng kaso laban sa mamamahayag na si Maria Ressa ng cyber libel at pagkaka-aresto dito. Si Ressa ang tumatayong CEO ng media outfit na Rappler. Atake ito sa malayang pamamahayag at ang isang malayang media ay isa sa mga haligi ng isang malaya at demokratikong lipunan.

Gayung pansamantalang pinalaya sapagkat nakapag-piyansa, walang duda na ito ay pagsupil sa mga kritiko, sa loob man sila ng gubyerno katulad ng sinapit ni Senator Leila De Lima at dating Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno o sa labas man tulad ng ginagawa sa Rappler at iba pang media outlets. Ayon na rin kay Ressa 6 na beses na syang nagpiyansa sa loob ng dalawang buwan—resulta ng sunod-sunod na pagsasampa ng kaso sa kanya.

Tulad ng isang hari, na hindi dapat kinokontra, ganoon na lamang ang gigil ng administrasyon sa mga kritiko sa polisiya at palakad nito.

Tingnan na lamang natin kung paano pagbawalang mangampanya ang mga empleyado ng gubyerno, habang di umano saklaw sa limitasyong ito si Presidente Duterte. Kailangan umano nya na ‘magpasalamat” kaya’t may minamanok ito at tuwirang ineendorso! Hindi ito nasasaklawan ng batas, sapagkat animo’y sya ang batas na syang dapat nasusunod.

Kritikal sa isang tirano na kontrolado ang impormasyong nakararating sa publiko. Hindi sapat na may mga troll armies na syang nagpapalaganap ng “fake news” sa internet. Kailangan ng gubyernong Duterte ang isang supil at masunuring media. At sapagkat hindi kabagang ng administrasyon, ehemplo ang sinasapit ng Rappler at ni Maria Ressa para sa ibang mga media –magdalawang-isip muna bago suwagin ang Malakanyang!

Kung may busal na sa bibig ang dapat malayang makakapagpahayag at hindi makairal na ang proseso ng batas, anung klaseng desisyon ang mabubuo sa hanay ng mamamayan?

Kritikal laluna ngayong eleksyon na magkaroon ng akses tayong mamamayan sa totoo at obhetibong impormasyon upang makapagbuo ng matalinong desisyon. Pinatunayan na ng nakaraang eleksyon 2016 na malaki ang naging papel ng mga media outfits tulad ng Rappler para dito, lalo sa larangan ng social media.Dito takot ang isang tirano – matalino at kritikal na mamamayan na syang nagtatanong at may paninindigan.

Demokrasya ang nakasalang sa tiranyang bumabalot sa ating bayan. Huwag pagapi sa pag-uusig ng tiranya. Huwag tayong manahimik sa gitna ng nagaganap sa ating bayan. Lalong kailangang magbuklod-buklod ang lahat ng demokrata upang itaguyod ang natitira pang demokratikong espasyo at nakatindig pang mga demokratikong institusyon.

Ipaglaban ang Karapatan ng Mamamayan sa Malayang Pamamahayag at isang Malayang Midya.

Ipagtanggol ang Demokrasya, Biguin ang Tiranya!

Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya [KILUSAN]
Tel: (632) 7173262
Email: natlsect@kpdpilipinas.org
Web: http://www.kpdpilipinas.org
Twitter: @kilusanph
FB Page: @kilusanph

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