Police arrested journalist Lady Ann Salem, editor of red-tagged alternative publication Manila Today, after raiding her Mandaluyong home on Thursday, December 10.
Her arrest is part of a string of operations by the police in Metro Manila, leading to the arrest of 7 people, including Salem. The 6 others were identified by rights group Karapatan as trade unionists.
Salem’s colleagues denounced the arrest that coincided with Human Rights Day on Thursday, as the Duterte government intensifies its crackdown on dissent.
According to a report from the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), Salem was arrested with a certain Rodrigo Esparago over illegal possession of firearms and explosives – the usual charge against activists and progressive journalists.
The International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT), through a Facebook post on Thursday afternoon, said Salem was arrested through a “raid” by the CIDG.
Salem’s publication Manila Today was red-tagged by the controversial National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
In a text message to Rappler, IAWRT treasurer Jola Diones-Mamangun said they were still locating Salem as of 3:30 pm.
CIDG’s arresting spree
The arrest of Salem is part of a string of operations planned by the CIDG after obtaining search warrants for 4 homes across Metro Manila, all yielding various firearms and explosives.
In Greater Lagro, Quezon City, the CIDG arrested trade union organizer and activist Dennise Velasco.
They also arrested Mark Ryan Cruz, Romina Raiselle Astudillo, and Jaymie Gregorio in a condominium unit in South Triangle in Quezon City.
In Sta Ana, Manila, the police arrested a certain Joel Demate.
Then in Mandaluyong City, Salem and Esparago were arrested.
The search warrants were all signed by Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert, Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court Branch 89 in Quezon City.
Support for Salem
In a statement following IAWRT’s announcement of her arrest, the alternative and progressive press network Altermidya condemned the police for her arrest.
“We demand the PNP to release Lady Ann! The alternative media has faced continuous repression under this administration, and 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,” the group said.
Salem is among the founding members of Altermidya, member of Tudla Productions, and is a communications officer of the IAWRT. She is a former officer of the Metro Manila chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).
She is an alumna of the UP College of Mass Communication and a fellow of the Lopez Jaena Community Journalism Workshop.
“Her abduction, on Human Rights Day no less, is another proof of the dangers of the administration’s vile practice of red-tagging,” Altermidya said. – Rappler.com