Duterte slammed for barring Philippine news site from his events

Journalists work at the office of Rappler in Pasig, Metro Manila, Philippines. (Reuters/Dondi Tawatao/File Photo)
Updated 21 February 2018
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Duterte slammed for barring Philippine news site from his events

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s move to ban a critical news website from covering the presidential palace is a threat to press freedom, rights and media groups said on Wednesday.
Rappler, set up in 2012, is among a clutch of Philippine news organizations that have sparred with Duterte over their critical coverage of his drug war which the government says has claimed the lives of nearly 4,000 suspects.
Human rights groups charge that thousands more have been killed by shadowy vigilantes.
Duterte’s spokesman said the president had decided to bar Rappler journalists from covering his events due to a “lack of trust.”
US-based watchdog Human Rights Watch said the move “threatens media freedoms.”
“It could portend a broader assault on journalists and news organizations, whose critical watchdog role has magnified the government’s poor human rights record,” it said in a statement.
The move came as the site also faced state-enforced closure, after the government’s corporate regulator last month alleged that Rappler violated a constitutional ban on foreign ownership of local media.
Since taking power in 2016, Duterte has also publicly attacked other media outlets which have criticized his policies.
On Tuesday, guards barred Rappler’s palace reporter from entering the grounds of the presidential office. She was later allowed to attend a news conference by Duterte’s spokesman but prohibited from covering the president’s speech.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said on Wednesday Duterte had decided to bar Rappler from all presidential coverage.
The order came a day after the senate summoned Duterte’s chief aide to answer questions following a Rappler report that he had intervened in a controversial $308 million frigate project by the Philippine navy. Duterte had branded the story as “fake news.”
“She cannot have access to the president because the president is annoyed with her,” Roque told radio DZMM, referring to the Rappler reporter who had defended the report during Tuesday’s briefing.
Rappler, which has appealed last month’s ruling, decried Duterte’s ban as an “attempt to intimidate independent journalists.”
Local media groups and opposition lawmakers also condemned Duterte’s decision.
“It sends a clear and chilling signal that everyone else better report only what he wants you to or else,” said the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.


Vietnam jails activist for anti-government posts on Facebook

Updated 3 min 52 sec ago
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Vietnam jails activist for anti-government posts on Facebook

  • The conviction comes as communist authorities step up a crackdown on dissent
  • Some 97 activists were in jail as of April this year, according to Amnesty International

HANOI, Vietnam: A court in southern Vietnam has sentenced an activist to 27 months in prison for Facebook posts that judges say insulted the ruling Communist Party and government and called for anti-government protests.
Doan Khanh Vinh Quang, 42, was convicted “abuse of democratic freedom to infringe on the legitimate interests of the state” by the People’s Court in Ninh Kieu District in Can Tho province after a one-day trial Monday, the Vietnam News Agency reported.
The agency quoted judges as saying Quang’s actions “actively abetted hostile and reactionary forces from inside and outside the country” who want to overthrow the party and government.
Court officials were not available for comment Tuesday.
The conviction comes as communist authorities step up a crackdown on dissent. Quang was third activist to be jailed in a week on similar charges.
On Saturday, Nguyen Hong Nguyen and Truong Dinh Khang, were convicted of insulting the Communist Party and its leaders, including late founding President Ho Chi Minh, and sentenced to two years and one year respectively in separate cases in Can Tho province.
Despite sweeping economic reforms over the past 30 years that opened Vietnam to foreign investment and trade that made it one of fastest growing economies in the region, the Communist Party tolerates no challenge to its one-party rule.
Some Western governments and international human rights groups criticize Vietnam for jailing people for peacefully expressing their views. Hanoi says only lawbreakers are put behind bars.
Some 97 activists were in jail as of April this year, according to Amnesty International.