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On Panelo’s ‘honor’

PRESIDENTIAL legal counsel and spokesperson Salvador Panelo again proved that both libel and cyberlibel should be decriminalized when he threatened both Rappler and the Inquirer.net with legal charges for simply reporting on an important and raging public issue.

Panelo is showing the Filipino people that this country’s criminal libel and cyberlibel laws are, more often than not, used as weapons wielded by the powerful to exact revenge and to punish than a legal remedy for justice.

In a press briefing in Malacañan Palace Tuesday, Panelo said his office is drafting the libel complaints, against both media outfits for being “irresponsible” and “malicious.”

To his mind, reports about his Feb. 26, 2019 letter to the Board of Pardons and Parole forwarding Antonio Sanchez’s family’s request for executive clemency were meant to discredit him in public and to tarnish his honor.

“Balat-sibuyas” is what we Filipinos call officials who are incapable of thinking beyond their imagined hurt and fail to see that the reports are not all about them.

Officials of Panelo’s kind must at least admit that, in this case, those reports helped avert the travesty of the convicted rapist and murderer’s early release. Those reports informed the public that flawed laws are being abused by powerful people and that such laws beggars revisiting. Those reports also serve to warn officials like Panelo to be careful in dispensing both duties and favors, even to old friends.

If protecting his honor is what Panelo is really after, he should refrain from carrying out his threat against Rappler and Inquirer.net. Magnanimity is key. Honor is, after all, like a nice shirt seen by others on the wearer, not a sword wielded harshly by the bearer. – National Directorate, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines

State harassment

THE youth are shaming Duterte and this administration with their determination, bold voices, and courage to fight for their principles. A cowardly government that abhors this bravery responded with their typical, militarist solution — more lies through trumped up charges.

Human rights alliance Karapatan condemns the filing of falsified trafficking and child abuse charges against leaders and organizers of Anakbayan and other youth leaders. The rights group called the case a clear move by government state forces to harass the respondents and suppress dissent. The charges came after Sen. Ronald dela Rosa publicly failed to peddle his “kidnapping” and red tagging narrative against youth activists and progressive organizations.

Amid massive student protests condemning assaults on student activism and threats of campus militarization, Duterte’s machinery is hellbent on terrorizing the Filipino youth and harassing its critics through the old tactic of filing false and malicious charges. It is a clear case of state harassment. This comes from a militarist mindset that fear and terror will silence the youth from voicing their discontent on the government’s political and economic failures.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a subpoena last Aug. 13 against Anakbayan leaders and members, as well as Kabataan representative Sarah Jane Elago and National Union of People’s Lawyers chairperson Neri Colmenares over trafficking and child abuse raps and other complaints filed by the Philippine National Police (PNP) Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) over supposed “missing activists.”

There are no missing or brainwashed activists. The “missing activists” have made it clear that they voluntarily joined Anakbayan. They have appeared publicly in press conferences and mass mobilizations to debunk the lies and expose the fascist state’s agenda of exploiting them and their families to demonize student activism. At this point, the state is desperately grasping at straws, trying to save whatever logic is left of their tirades against youth organizations.

This is really hogwash, and it is lamentable that millions are spent to fund this kind of judicial harassment and political persecution against activists. The inclusion of Elago and Colmenares indicates how desperate they are to implicate vocal critics of this repressive government. This absurdity could’ve been laughable, if it wasn’t so dangerous.

Bato cannot feign interest in forwarding the interests of the youth when he has been the chief implementer of the Duterte regime’s drug war, which has claimed the lives of thousands of Filipino youth and destroyed many Filipino families.

The Duterte administration has been relentless in its assault on dissent from the sedition charges against the political opposition, perjury raps and outright demonization of human rights defenders, and now, the trumped-up charges against youth activists. These attacks are proof that Duterte is cowering in fear because of the people’s growing resistance against his brutal fascist regime. This government wants robotic people who will blindly follow orders. In the past months however, the youth, along with many sectors, have shown them that the Filipino people remain critical, and that regardless of their sinister plans, the clamor against repression and tyranny grows stronger. –Cristina Palabay, secretary general, Karapatan

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TREND MAKER. Mindanao Gold Star Daily was established in 1989 to set ablaze a new meaning & flame to the local newspaper business. Throughout the years it continued its focus and interest in the rural areas & pioneered the growth of countryside journalism.

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