The National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP) on Monday, July 27, urged media workers to not succumb to fear or surrender to lies especially at this time when the media and the truth are “increasingly under siege.”

“This is the time to do what we in the profession of truth do best, be journalists,” the group said in a statement.

With President Rodrigo Duterte’s upcoming 5th State of the Nation Address scheduled today at 4 p.m., the group said that they join the Filipino people in demanding the respect and restoration of their basic rights and liberties.

NUJP also compared Duterte to the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in his actions to shut down media giant ABS-CBN which led to thousands of its employees losing their jobs while in the middle of a pandemic, pass the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 which harms the people’s right to freedom of expression, and wrongfully accuse Rappler Chief Executive Officer Maria Ressa who continues to defend herself from cyberlibel.

“Even before he officially assumed his post, on May 31, 2016, Duterte already made clear his unbridled contempt for media, even hinting that killing journalists might be justified,” NUJP said.

“Just because you’re a journalist, you are not exempted from assassination, if you’re a son of a b*tch,” the NUJP quoted Duterte.

The journalists’ union stressed that “it has been downhill ever since as the president ramped up his offensive against the independent media, joined by his minions and fanatic followers, his messages of hate amplified by a machinery dedicated to the fabrication of half-truths and falsehoods.”

The NUJP added that by just demanding the government to respect and protect freedom of the press and of expression, journalists and media organizations are easily labeled as rebels or terrorists by state security forces who openly slander without evidence.

The NUJP highlighted recent events in the provinces where members of the media were harassed by local police and red-tagged.

The journalists’ union noted that three funeral wreaths were sent anonymously to ABS-CBN Cagayan de Oro studios of ABS-CBN after a protest calling for the return of the network on air. Its ribbons linked the campaign for the network’s franchise and other organizations including NUJP to the communist insurgency.

Another instance occurred just the day after in Pandi, Bulacan where police seized thousands of copies of the alternative news magazine “Pinoy Weekly” from the offices of the urban poor group Kadamy, with false claims that the publication, which focuses on the issues and problems facing marginalized sectors, taught people to fight the government.

Even though the media is facing challenging times, the NUJP still continues to urge journalists to close ranks, resist repression, and unite with their audiences – the people that they serve.

“We owe it to them to keep press freedom alive in the service of their right to know,” NUJP concluded. (Jessica Zapata)