The current cyber-libel case charged against journalists Rappler’s Maria Ressa and Rambo Talabong cement the Duterte administration’s measures in intimidating the press and silencing critical voices of dissent. Considering the repressive political climate of the current regime are not just the prospects of criminalizing truth defenders but an attack on democracy itself.
The 10th arrest warrant filed against Ressa proves how Duterte and his cohorts are busy fabricating lies that distort truth from falsehood; thus, jeopardizing the very existence of a democratic sphere.
The College Editors Guild of the Philippines would like to put onto notice that to proclaim the banners of truth amidst falsehood is not only a journalists’ duty but a right of the Filipino people.
Moreover, through these repressive state structures that sought to weaponize the law against journalists — the Filipino people are not only being blinded from the truth but are being played upon by the government. Amidst these challenging times brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, the quest of truth defenders for independent and critical journalism is not something to be criminalized but a necessity that needs to be amplified.
Hence, CEGP voices out their calls of solidarity to Maria Ressa and Rambo Talabong. The Guild holds firm in their conviction that to express the truth through ink and pen is not to be responded to by an arrest warrant. Furthermore, we call on Congress to prioritize the decriminalization of libel as it is being weaponized by repressive state structures to target truth defenders.
Amidst these times where democracies and rights are being compromised, the Guild calls on our member-campus publications and youth formations to remain persistent in standing with the press as they struggle together with the masses under the night of Duterte’s tyranny.