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MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED – The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) is staging a protest action on January 19 dubbed “Black Friday Protest for Freedom.”
Malacañang said on the day of the protest that authorities will observe maximum tolerance during the gathering.
The NUJP earlier slammed the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) decision revoking the registration of news website Rappler. (READ: Journalist groups hit SEC decision vs Rappler)
The NUJP said the ruling against Rappler is just one of the many threats of President Rodrigo Duterte against critical media, and cited the Chief Executive’s statements against the Philippine Daily Inquirer and ABS-CBN.
“The threatened closure of Rappler has proven that Rodrigo Duterte and his minions will stop at nothing to shut down critical voices even as they rush to amend the Constitution to produce an abomination that will not only perpetuate themselves in power but emasculate our rights and liberties,” NUJP said in a Facebook post inviting media practitioners and concerned citizens to join the protest action.
There are two ways to support the Black Friday action:
- Wear black shirts or black arm bands to school or your place of work.
- Join the protest at the Boy Scout Circle, the roundabout at Timog and Thomas Morato intersection in Quezon City at 6 pm.
The NUJP said that it will announce upcoming activities that will discuss and map out what needs to be done “to defend our country and people from the Duterte administration’s sinister plans.”
Malacañang ‘respects’ Black Friday protest
Malacañang said on Friday the government would respect the right of Filipinos to join the Black Friday Protest for Freedom.
“The Palace position on the matter remains clear and consistent: We allow public displays of constructive criticism as part of full exercise of the protesters’ rights to express their grievances,” Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said on Friday morning.
Roque said law enforcers will “observe maximum tolerance” during the protest.
“Authorities, as a matter of standard operating procedure, will observe maximum tolerance and respect the protesters’ right to peaceful assembly,” said Roque.
He said the fact that Malacañang is letting the protest take place, is a “testament that freedom is alive and democracy is alive in the Philippines.”
Prior to the SEC ruling on Rappler, however, Duterte had repeatedly attacked the media with his vitriolic speeches against news organizations that run reports critical of his administration.
Beyond verbal attacks, Duterte had threatened to block the franchise renewal of television network ABS-CBN. Following repeated attacks on the Inquirer owners, the Prietos sold their shares to businessman Ramon Ang, Duterte’s friend.
In January 2018, the SEC ordered the revocation of Rappler’s license to operate, a move seen by many as a crackdown on press freedom. Duterte had consistently attacked and made false claims about the news website.
Media organizations, human rights groups, and lawmakers have slammed the SEC decision, calling it “too severe” and “disproportionate.”
The Friday rally organized by NUJP is meant to show support for the cause of press freedom. – With a report by Pia Ranada / Rappler.com