“This is a clear effort of the present administration to silence its critics and to sow fear among the people.”
MANILA — A media group denounced the inclusion of detained journalist Sherwin de Vera to the terror list released by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
In a statement, Kathleen Okubo, chairperson of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) Baguio-Benguet chapter demands a stop to the continuing attacks against de Vera, a columnist and editorial staff member of the Northern Dispatch Weekly.
De Vera was arrested in December on charges of rebellion filed against him three years ago. Before his arrest, De Vera had been tailed by unidentified men believed to be military agents. He was released on bail in January.
“These attacks put him and his family in danger,” Okubo said.
Okubo, a veteran journalist who fought the Marcos dictatorship, said the terrorist listing “is reminiscent of the Marcos regime when journalists critical of the government were among the first to be silenced.”
“This is a clear effort of the present administration to silence its critics and to sow fear among the people. If the administration can include known rights defenders who even work for the UN [United Nations], journalists and lawyers in its terrorist list, how much more for common folks?” Okubo said.
Among the 600 respondents to the DOJ petition to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New People’s Army (NPA) as terrorist organizations are Victoria Tauli Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur for Indigenous People; lawyer Jose Mencio Molintas, former member of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) and Joan Carling, past Secretary General of the Asian Indigenous Peoples’ Pact (AIPP) and former member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
The NUJP-Baguio Benguet called on the DOJ to withdraw its petition and to dismiss all trumped-up charges filed against De Vera.
In a statement sent to Bulatlat, De Vera condemned what he called as “another malicious and baseless accusation against him by the DOJ under the behest of Duterte and the Armed Forces of the Philippines. He said he is ready to answer and prove that this allegation is false in the proper time and forum.
“This action is not only directed towards discrediting me or my organizations. Its ultimate purpose is to silence all political dissenters,” De Vera said.
“The pursuit for the people’s right to equitable share of resources and healthy environment is a noble cause. The government may call it ‘terrorism’ but it’s something that human rights and environmental activists should never be ashamed nor afraid of,” he added.