Bicol media is under siege. Ever since Duterte’s term began, cases of non-stop threats, intimidation and cyberattacks against numerous media personalities throughout the region have skyrocketed. Unsurprisingly, all these cases involve media workers active in exposing anomalies within the government.
Five media workers have already been arrested – Virgilio Avila, Jr., Nolito Banaria, Irene Cambronero, Bernie Patiag and Rommel Ibasco Fenix from Camarines Norte. This September 14, Sorsoganon journalist Jobert ‘Pulpog’ Bercasio was also murdered by state agents.
Duterte’s minions cry foul when Facebook finally took down troll accounts handled by elements of the AFP but deems it justifiable to arbitrarily close down media institutions that dare to genuinely report sentiments of the masses. These troll accounts, lavishly funded by the state even during the pandemic, actively disparage progressive groups and individuals and sow disinformation amongst the netizens. These accounts have also been used to harass and threaten suspected members and supporters of the revolutionary movement. Duterte and those in camouflage, donning medals of honor and high-power rifles are the ones who deserve to be put into jail for libel, harassment, and worse, terroristic acts.
Foolish are those who believe they can silence the voice of the people. Isn’t it during the Marcos dictatorship that underground organizations, newspapers and other media outfits proliferated? Duterte may have trolls that flood social media and strangle media outfits to propagate lies and bury his regime’s crimes against the people. But this will not stop the people from finding more creative ways for their story to be told.
NDF-Bicol highly commends all media workers and institutions that have dedicated their time and efforts into lending their voices and airwaves to convey the masses’ views and stories to a wider audience. The revolutionary movement strongly calls on all other reporters, writers, media institutions and alliances to unite and relentlessly fight against further media repression. Support the call to stop the harassment and murder of media workers and demand justice for all victims of human rights violations.
Taking a stand, siding with the oppressed and striving for genuine change is the very foundation of a free and just press. Telling the people’s truth, no matter the cost, is the beating heart of journalism.
Free the press, free the oppressed!
Overthrow the US-Duterte regime!