DAVAO CITY – An article implicating media groups and personalities and human rights lawyers in a supposed ouster plot versus President Rodrigo Duterte signals plans for renewed attacks against independent media, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said Monday.
The article titled “Oust-Duterte plot bared” appeared in manilatimes.net on Monday and was written by The Manila Times chairman emeritus Dante A. Ang. It named Vera Files, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, Rappler and the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers as the organizations behind the alleged ouster plot.
NUJP said the article is dangerous “as it lays the ground for more attacks against independent media.”
“Ang’s story is such a marvel of unethical and amateurish writing. Based on a single anonymous source and a matrix showing a web of threads so tenuous it would not hold up in the slightest breeze, Ang’s piece of claptrap wouldn’t even pass muster at any self-respecting high school publication,” the group said.
“It would, in fact, be funny if the implications of his slanderous naming of journalists and human rights lawyers supposedly involved in this fictitious plot weren’t so dire. In fact, proof that the matrix, the source and the story are hogwash is the fact that former NUJP chair – AND former Times editor – Inday Espina Varona is listed in the matrix as among National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) members. She is not and she is not a lawyer,” it added.
NUJP said what Ang has done is no different from the narco-lists produced by “his principal”, President Rodrigo Duterte, “sans evidence but which often amount to hit lists, death sentences without the benefit of trial.”
“In fact, the source – supposing there was one – and the writer do not even bother to explain the nature of the links, if any, between Vera Files, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism and Rappler on one hand, and the NUPL, on the other except by claiming preposterously that these media outfits and the Left have aligned themselves in a plot to oust Duterte – a tale as old, and as stale, as time” it pointed out.
It said the “revelation” could lead to a crackdown against independent media and human rights lawyers.
It added Ang should be held accountable “should any harm come to those he has maligned.”
“Again, we reiterate, history has proven that attempts to silence the independent Philippine press may succeed for a while but, in the end, the truth will out and tyrants will always end up in the dustbin of history,” it said.