On November 4, Philippine Daily Inquirer reporter Jhesset Enano live-tweeted the 35th ASEAN Summit in Thailand, pointing out the successive absence of President Duterte throughout the event.

President Duterte’s absence at the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership summit and closing ceremony of the ASEAN summit was a fact dutifully reported by Enano, and expectedly, was taken poorly by Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.

In a childish fit of rage, Locsin responded to Enano:

“Uh, did you get the putangina I sent you? That’s the last event, purely ceremonial and short. [Indonesian President] Jokowi had left, [Malaysian Prime Minister] Mahathir too.”

As the Philippines’ top representative and diplomat, Locsin’s response is disappointing and of poor taste. For the sole reason of supposedly striking and insulting Locsin’s ego, the expletive delivered upon Enano’s reputation was unjust and should not have occurred.

Similarly, communications undersecretary Lorraine Badoy maliciously red-tagged the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) in an interview with the television program News 5’s The Chiefs last November 4. 

Badoy linked NUJP to the Communist Party of the Philippines and is “unequivocally” fronting for terrorist organizations.

“Since December last year, there has been an intensifying campaign to paint the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines and other independent media organizations and journalists as “fronts” of the armed communist movement,” said NUJP in a statement. 

It must be noted that Davao Today columnist Margarita Valle was arrested at Laguindingan Airport last June 9 and held incommunicado for 18 hours in what the police later admitted was a case of mistaken identity.

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines, the oldest and broadest alliance of campus journalists in the country and in Southeast Asia, expresses its grave concerns over these inappropriate and malicious remarks from public servants. 

With Duterte’s foul and uncouth mouth, it was no wonder that his minions would imitate him. These remarks are not just mere use of freedom of expression but are coordinated attacks aimed to suppress the watchdogs of society. 

“By red-tagging these legitimate organizations and individuals, it is more apparent that Duterte is hell-bent in stifling the essential role of journalists in exposing the atrocities of his regime,” said CEGP national president Daryl Angelo Baybado.

We call them out for their repugnant behavior as the supposed public servants of the Filipino people.

“The Guild stands with Enano and NUJP, alongside with other press freedom fighters and organizations in fighting for genuine press freedom and justice. The brutal assault of the state against press freedom and the democratic rights of the people will not be forgotten,” Baybado added.

#StopTheAttacks
#DefendPressFreedom

CEGP
The oldest, broadest and only-existing alliance of tertiary student publication in the Asia-Pacific region. Est. 1931. CEGP is the oldest and broadest intercollegiate alliance of student publications in the Asia-Pacific. The national center for the advancement of campus press freedom.