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.


Nicaragua police raid opposition paper, end rights groups’ permits

View of damages at the office of Nicaraguan journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro, who rents at the building of the NGO Center of Investigation on Communication (CINCO) in Managua on December 14, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 16 December 2018
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Nicaragua police raid opposition paper, end rights groups’ permits

  • Confidencial’s front door was sealed with tape following the raid. Police seized work equipment and documents

MANAGUA: Nicaraguan police have raided the offices of an opposition daily and then stripped human rights and activist groups’ permission to operate, those targeted said Saturday.
Nine police officers armed with rifles entered the offices late Friday and started pushing people, beating others and making fun of reporters after journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro challenged them to take on his media outlet without a search warrant in his online daily Confidencial and news broadcasts Esta Semana and Esta Noche, he said.
What you are doing “is just de facto. If you have the order, I ask you to show it,” Chamorro said from the street to the agent who barred him and other colleagues from entering the offices.
“Police did not show any order at all... so this is an armed assault on private property, freedom of the press, freedom of expression and free enterprise,” he later told reporters.
Confidencial’s front door was sealed with tape following the raid. Police seized work equipment and documents.
Chamorro went to the police headquarters to demand the return of equipment, noting that the newspaper and television programs “are private companies attached to the commercial register, and have nothing to do with organizations that are being persecuted.”
The offices of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH) and four other NGOs in Managua were also occupied, and lawmakers canceled their permits to operate.
“Brutal display of brute force against journalists from @confidencial_ni in Nicaragua... this regime... aims to demolish critical voices in its country,” Human Rights Watch director Jose Miguel Vivanco said on Twitter.
Leftist President Daniel Ortega first came to power in 1979 as a leader of the leftist Sandinista rebels that toppled the US-backed Somoza family dictatorship. After leaving office in 1990 he returned to power in 2007.