In fact, since Duterte came to power in June 2016, media watchdogs have documented 85 cases of attacks and threats against journalists ranging from killings, death threats, surveillance, website attacks, verbal abuse and strafing, among others. Twelve journalists have been gunned down under the Duterte administration. No one has been punished for the killings.
In June last year, seasoned journalists were locked out of their accounts after thousands of users reported them for violating Facebook community standards after posting statements critical of Duterte’s decision allowing the hero’s burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Sr.
Inday Espina-Varona was among those victimized by alleged 'call center troll operations' that send hundreds of public abusive comments or bulk reporting against the account holder. This now usually happens to individuals or groups in the country who post something against the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. or about remembering the horrors of Martial Law or speaking out against Duterte.
Alipala wrote for the Philippine Daily Inquirer titled “7 young Tausug men killed by military not Abu Sayyaf bandits – relative.” Two days later, a Facebook page “Huwag Tularan” screen grabbed the headline of Alipala’s story and included her photo with the words, “Magkano kaya ang binayad kay Julie Alipala? Pati teroristang Abu Sayyaf pinagtatanggol niya! Certified bayarang kulumnista.” (How much was Julie Alipala paid? She is defending the terrorist Abu Sayyaf! Certified paid columnist)
Jamela Alindogan-Caudron found herself at the receiving end of hate speech for reporting Duterte’s anti-drug campaign and clashes between the military and the Abu Sayyaf Group.
Freelance journalist Gretchen Malalad was accused of sharing information with TIME magazine reporter Rishi Iyengar, who wrote the critical article “The Killing Season: Inside Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s War on Drugs” for the news magazine.
Like Alipala, they were called names such as “traitor,” “bayaran” (paid journalist) and “presstitute.” Some even said that the two journalists should be raped or killed.
Pia Ranada of Rappler and Jam Sisante of GMA 7 also became targets of online harassment by pro-Duterte bloggers.
On July 31, five journalists, including two women, were arrested while covering the violent dispersal of workers’ strike in Bulacan.
While filming the incident, Altermidya staff Avon Ang and Hiyas Saturay and three others were arrested by police.
Another woman journalist, IAWRT scholar Rosemarie Alcaraz, was also hurt as she ran away from a policeman attempting to grab her camera.
Ang and Saturay were detained, along with three other journalists and striking workers and supporters, for two days.
Fellow journalists from IAWRT Philippines who went to check on them and report the incident were denied access and threatened by the police. The five were eventually released after a local court dismissed the charges against them, but authorities never returned their cellphones, camera, laptops and other equipment.
Layout and edits by Lady Ann Salem