Artists and journalists launched an alliance to defend freedom of expression and other human rights in Quezon City Friday from what they call “a flood of attacks” under the Rodrigo Duterte government.
The Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity (LODI) arts and media alliance blamed Duterte himself for leading the assault on civil liberties and other rights, “aided by a well-oiled machinery of disinformation peddlers and digital storm troopers.”
“The President’s attacks have been amplified by a well-funded social media arm, in part underwritten by taxpaeyrs. They appropriated gains in freedom of expression even while unleashing violent threats on journalists, artists, activists and all other critics of the administration,” LODI said.
“Even before Duterte assumed power, he launched a campaign to undermine media, justifying attacks against journalists. He has since framed critical reportage – as he has all dissent to his policies – as part of imagined destabilization plots,” the newly-formed alliance said.
LODI said threats against human rights, freedom of expression and press freedom are not simple rants on social media, but come with elements that point to the potential of on-ground implementation by either state agents or proxies.
“These attacks have a clear aim: Silence opposition to mounting human rights violations linked to his [Duterte’s] crackdown on suspected drug addicts and dealed and various parties he has dubbed as enemies of the state, including activists and rights defenders,” LODI said.
The group said the President’s order to go after legal activists and opposition groups only heightens the dangers poised on freedom of expression and the press as well as all other freedoms.
Marcos martial law survivor and acclaimed film director Joel Lamangan said that attacks on freedom of expression and activists may be more sinister under Duterte compared to “his idol Marcos.”
“Many of us were just jailed by the late dictator. Now, we may just as well be killed without accorded the chance to defend ourselves,” Lamangan said.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines for its part said five journalists have been killed under the 16-month old Duterte government.
LODI said it is not enough for journalists and artists to call for a halt to government-led disinformation campaigns, vowing to combat the threat on all front.
“We will expose these deceptions. And we will work together in all fields of the arts and media, and reach out to all sectors, to reveal the harsh truths we live in,” LODI said, announcing its participation in mass mobilizations on Sunday, December 10, International Human Rights Day.
LODI’s launching event was attended by Joel Lamangan, Bonifacio Ilagan, Mae Paner, Frank Fernandez, Ricky Lee, Inday Espina-Varona, Kenneth Guda, Dabet Castañeda-Panelo, Tonyo Cruz, Soc Jose, and other well-known artists and journalists. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)