HARDLY HAS he warmed his seat than AFP chief of staff Lt. Gen. Noel Clement would dictate how media should do our work.
Worse, he appears to justify targeting media for red-tagging, the practice of openly accusing persons or organizations of supporting or belonging to the communist rebel movement without presenting concrete evidence, on the basis of what he alleges to be “bias,” which he explains thus: “alleged violations of security forces are being highlighted vis-a-vis those being done by threat groups.”
We are sorry, General Sir, but that is not how the democracy you are sworn to defend works.
In that democracy, it is media’s – redtagged or otherwise – duty to ensure that all opinions and points of view, even those that may seem disagreeable, even repulsive, are accorded equal opportunity to be heard in the free marketplace of ideas.
Just as it is the duty of those sworn to uphold the rule of law and the rights and liberties of the people to protect and ensure the marketplace of ideas remains free, corollary to which, it would also be incumbent on them to protect media organizations and journalists from being vilified and threatened for doing their jobs.
In that democracy, it is media’s duty to highlight any failure by those sworn to uphold the rule of law and protect the citizenry to uphold their bounden duty.
If we were to submit to Gen. Clement’s wishes, then we should not have reported on the brutal death of a promising young man in the country’s premier military academy at the hands of those who should have been his comrades.
So no, General Sir, we cannot, we will not acquiesce to your wish for that would be to betray not only the tenets of our profession but our duty to serve the people’s sacred right to know.
(Statement of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, Sept. 27, 2019)