NUJP backs Rappler journalist, slams 'hollow block' threat

MANILA, Philippines – The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) expressed support for Rappler's Malacañang reporter Pia Ranada, who was threatened by a pro-administration blogger on his radio program.

The group also said it would back Ranada if she chooses to file criminal and civil charges against RJ Nieto.

Nieto, a government consultant who claimed he had resigned, had urged newly-appointed Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque to throw a hollow block at Ranada. Nieto made the remark on his radio program aired over dwIZ last Friday, November 3. (READ: DWIZ host incites violence against Rappler journalist)

"We support our colleague Pia and will support criminal and civil charges she may decide to file against Nieto. We encourage her outfit Rappler to assist Pia in her pursuit of justice," NUJP said in a statement on Sunday, November 5.

In the radio interview, Nieto told Roque: "Pero, sir, kahit isang hollow block magbalibag naman kayo, sir, para ano lang pakagat lang ganoon," then laughed. (But, sir, just throw one hollow block, sir, to give them a taste.) 

Roque replied: "Pero dapat pipiliin din ang target." (But we also have to choose the target.)

Nieto then shot back: "Kasi ako po, si Pia na lang po. Si Pia Ranada, sir." (If it were me, I'd just choose Pia, Pia Ranada, sir.)

Ranada, who has been the subject of Nieto's online attacks for a year now, then called out dwIZ and lodged a formal written complaint against Nieto. (READ: NUJP hits RJ Nieto for being a 'barefaced liar')

In response, Roque asked the rabid supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte to refrain from throwing anything at "legitimate journalists." The spokesperson suggested that they give "hot pan de sal" instead.

The NUJP said Roque should have called Nieto's attention during their exchange on air.

"It is such a shame that newly-appointed Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque – a lawyer, a self-styled human rights defender, and, until very recently, a lawmaker – allowed this on-air exchange between him and without calling Nieto's attention that he may be committing a crime," the group said.

"Wasn't it Roque himself who told blogger and government official Mocha Uson he would throw hollow blocks at the critics of this administration? Shame," the NUJP added.

This was in reference to Roque's earlier interview with Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Uson, where he said he would throw hollow blocks at the critics of the administration. Ranada was among the few journalists who reported on that remark.

The NUJP called on the Presidential Task Force on Media Security to look into the case.

"Clearly, Nieto, in his patent ignorance and arrogance, has crossed more lines. It is time to make him pay for recklessly endangering a working journalist," the group said.

The NUJP also asked Aliw Broadcasting Corporation and the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas to "do what is right given all these." – Rappler.com