Pro-democracy organization slams writers group for ‘casting aspersions without evidence’

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Pro-democracy organization slams writers group for ‘casting aspersions without evidence’
The group Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity (LODI) says the letter of the 'concerned writers from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao' posted online 'cast doubt and aspersion without evidence' against Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Pro-democracy group Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity (LODI) slammed the letter released by the “concerned writers from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao” which said Rappler “misrepresented itself to Securities Exchange and Commission (SEC), yet prides itself on being composed of veteran journalists, and as such, members of mass media.”

The statement  posted online by Rebecca Añonuevo was released a week after the SEC decided  to revoke the online news organization’s license to operate.

The statement said that “Rappler contradicts its claim to being independent as it has allowed Omidyar and North Base Media to interfere in its corporate affairs.”

For LODI, which is composed of writers and other artists all over the country which led the call to protect press freedom, Añonuevo and her group have “cast doubt and aspersion without evidence.” In a previous press conference, Rappler executives have already said that investors like Omidyar and North Base have no control over the company’s day-to-day operations.

“They have no say. They can’t tell us you’re not supposed to run this story or you should run this story. No interference at all in editorial. That’s the difference,” Rappler’s acting managing editor Chay Hofileña said.

Local media groups

“Journalism, while imperfect, and while pushed to a corner, continues to struggle for its rights and the rights of everyone, including your own: to speak, to share, to engage, to debate, and to write,” LODI added.

Joining the call of several Manila-based organizations, various local media groups across the country have released statements of support for Rappler throughout the week following the SEC ruling.

 The groups have reiterated that, more than anything else, this is an issue of press freedom.  (READ: Journalist groups hit SEC decision vs Rappler)

“While we recognize the state’s responsibility of upholding our Constitution as well as the regulation of all business, we fear that the act of the Securities and Exchange Commission is a smack against press freedom and freedom of expression,” Negros Press Club said in its statement. (READ: Bacolod media, groups join ‘Black Friday’ call to uphold press freedom

Local press not excluded

Considering the various threats made by President Rodrigo Duterte against media, Palawan News also argued that the SEC ruling adds up to the pattern of consistent efforts made by the government to intimidate the press. (READ: PH media goes black to protest threats against press freedom)

In the past, Duterte has threatened to block the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise and has publicly criticized the Philippine Daily Inquirer for its supposed “slanted reporting.”

“The administration’s angry intolerance of independent media, mainstream notwithstanding, has cast a dangerous political environment for free press ever since the President’s rants. The SEC decision against Rappler is a coup de grâce that seeks to stymie all media,” Palawan News said.

Local media groups are not exempted from these attacks, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines – Davao (NUJP Davao) said.  (READ: Campus journalists say press freedom is everyone’s battle)

“In December last year, Kath Cortez, a broadcaster of Radyo Ni Juan Davao was also tagged as a supporter of the communists and received a death threat for her criticism against the policies of the current administration,” NUJP Davao said in its statement.

The College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines has also shed light on this issue, citing the story of Sherwin de Vera, an environmental journalist from Ilocos Sur. According to the oldest alliance of tertiary campus publications, De Vera was arrested for trumped-up charges of rebellion. (READ: From Marcos to Duterte: How media was attacked,

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