press freedom

‘Free Lady Ann Salem’: Groups demand release of Manila Today editor

Gaby Baizas

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‘Free Lady Ann Salem’: Groups demand release of Manila Today editor
Various groups and institutions say that the journalist's arrest is an 'outright attack on freedom of expression'

Various groups called for the release of journalist Lady Ann “Icy” Salem, who was among those arrested during a string of police operations in Metro Manila on Human Rights Day on Thursday, December 10.

Police arrested a total of 7 people, including Salem, on Human Rights Day over alleged illegal possession of firearms and explosives – the usual charges against activists.

Salem is an editor of red-tagged alternative publication Manila Today, and is among the founding members of Altermidya. She is also a former officer of the Metro Manila chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).

Groups denounced Salem’s arrest, which they deemed as another move to silence the free press.

Salem’s alma mater, the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (UP CMC), vouched for her integrity as a journalist and called on the government to stop red-tagging students and its graduates.

“That we produce graduates like Icy who opt to keep the torch of press freedom burning shows the quality of education we provide to our students. We teach them the value not just of seeking power of truth but also of speaking truth to power,” UP CMC said in a statement.

Salem is also an alumna of the University of the Philippines Integrated School. UPIS said in a statement that her arrest is a “clear attempt to silence critics and an outright attack on freedom of expression.”

The NUJP said Salem’s arrest is further proof that the administration is “bent on silencing the independent and critical Philippine media” in order to “manipulate the flow of information” to the detriment of Philippine democracy.

Altermidya said that alternative media have faced “continuous repression” under the Duterte administration, and that Salem’s abduction is proof of the dangers of red-tagging.

“[We] will not allow another journalist to be attacked. We urge our fellow journalists and human rights defenders to join in our call to free Lady Ann,” Altermidya said in a statement.

Salem and Manila Today are the latest to be red-tagged and attacked by the Duterte administration. Altermidya Network correspondent Frenchiemae Cumpio was arrested in Tacloban in February, and even news agency CNN Philippines was red-tagged by the government without basis. (READ: Gov’t platforms being used to attack, red-tag media)

Based on the results of a July 2020 Social Weather Stations survey, a majority of Filipinos believe it is “dangerous” to “print or broadcast anything critical” of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration, “even if it’s the truth.–

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Gaby Baizas

Gaby Baizas is a digital forensics researcher at Rappler. She first joined Rappler straight out of college as a digital communications specialist. She hopes people learn to read past headlines the same way she hopes punk never dies.