World must take moral climate stand for humanity, warns Pacific expert

Authors of the current IPCC reporting cycle in Fiji – Dr Helene Jacot Des Combe (from left), Dr Morgan Wairiu, Professor Elisabeth Holland and Diana Salili. Image: USP/Wansolwara

By Jope Tarai in Suva

The threat of rising global temperatures on Pacific ecosystems is not only a scientific analysis but a reality for many people in the region, with a Pacific climate change expert warning that the current aggregate emissions reductions by countries are inadequate.

Dr Morgan Wairiu, deputy director at USP’s Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development, said the Pacific would effectively lose its ecosystems and resources at current emission levels, which indicate the possibility of the global temperature rising beyond 1.5C to 3.7C.

“The world needs to take a moral stand, this is a humanity issue, more than science, the economy or anything else,” he said, highlighting the need for greater action and urgency on climate change.

READ MORE: Strongest climate solutions ‘developed together’

“The Pacific’s natural and human systems would face greater devastation if the global average temperature rises above 1.5C.”

He warned the Pacific that the parties in the Conference of Parties (COP) were not on track to keep global average temperatures below 1.5C

-Partners-

The Fiji-based Dr Wairiu knows all too well the dangers of climate change, spending more than 25 years championing change and assisting countries in keeping the global average temperature below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

This possibility cuts at the heart of Dr Wairui’s early formative years, growing up in his village and his boarding school supported by the lush and rich vegetation in Guadalcanal.

Pacific survival
“These ecosystems, which support the survival of Pacific people, are under threat. I remember spending long hours outdoors exploring and enjoying the village surrounding,” he said.

“In boarding school, we learnt resilience and self-sufficiency by tending to food gardens and fishing for seafood.”

Dr Wairiu, who hails from Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, was recently one of the lead authors in the 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 1.5C special report, which assessed what had been done so far and the feasibility of keeping the global average temperature below 1.5C.

This year he has been selected as the co-ordinating lead author for the “Small Islands” chapter in the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (IPCC AR6). The IPCC releases the assessment reports every five years, with the most recent one (IPCC AR5) released in 2014.

Dr Wairiu will be co-ordinating and guiding a number of authors within the “Small Islands” chapter of the sixth assessment report.

Dr Wairiu graduated from the University of Papua New Guinea in agriculture and returned to the Solomon Islands to serve his people in the research division at the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands.

His work focused on soil and plant growth. This proved crucial for Dr Wairiu because of the Solomon Islands’ logging industry, which coincided with his cultivated plant growth work.

Completed studies
Later, he secured a scholarship to complete his postgraduate studies at the University of London in the UK. He also completed a Masters degree at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland before returning to his home country.

Dr Wairiu then moved to Ohio State University in the US to pursue his PhD and at that stage he was examining soil carbon dynamics. Completing his PhD, he returned to his village during the tensions of the early 2000s.

Shortly afterwards, he was called by the Solomon Islands government to take up the role of permanent secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands.

Dr Wairiu joined the Waikato University as a visiting research fellow before moving to the University of The South Pacific. His progression and years of experience has culminated in his current work on climate change.

Jope Tarai is an emerging indigenous Fijian scholar, based at the School of Government, Development and International Affairs, University of the South Pacific. His research interests include, Pacific regionalism, Pacific politics and digital ethnography. This article was first published by Wansolwara.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

PNG probe into parliament rampage still ongoing, says police chief

A scene from the break-in at parliament in Waigani, Port Moresby, last November. Image: Bryan Kramer/Kramer Report

By RNZ Pacific

Papua New Guinea’s Police Commissioner says investigations are ongoing into officers who took part in a rampage through Parliament last year.

Last November, dozens of police and corrections officers went on the rampage over their frustrations about unpaid security work at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)  summit.

The Speaker of Parliament, Job Pomat, who subsequently offered officers bonuses for their work, has called for the investigation to be dropped in the spirit of forgiveness.

READ MORE: The Kramer Report allegations

But commissioner Gary Baki said the probe would continue and those responsible would be held to account.

“Why it’s taking a little bit too long, because most of the people that are involved are those that came from outer provinces,” he said.

-Partners-

Investigating team
“So our investigating team will have to get together and ensure that those that came in from outer provinces are clearly identified, so that their provincial police commanders in those regions can be informed accordingly that these are the people that will be required to be investigated by the investigating team.

“It’s not only in NCD (National Capital District).”

Meanwhile, the PNG opposition has questioned the integrity of the purported bill for the damage to parliament, which has been quoted at more than 8 million kina

Pacific Media Watch reports that Opposition member for Madang Bryan Kramer, who publishes the investigative Kramer Report, has made a series of allegations challenging the credibility of the damages claim and questioning whether Parliament has become a “Haus of corruption”.

This article is republished under the Pacific Media Centre’s content partnership with Radio New Zealand.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Pacific Media Centre Annual Review 2018

Pacific Media Centre

ISBN/code: ISSN 2624-3768

Publication date: Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Publisher: Pacific Media Centre

PACIFIC MEDIA CENTRE ANNUAL REVIEW 2018
The Pacific Media Centre (PMC) became the only university-based communications and media publishing unit to be included in Radio New Zealand’s highly praised public outreach programme in recognition of its specialised Pacific knowledge, research and media content production.

It was also the only NZ programme invited to join the Journalism Research and Education Association (JERAA) of Australia.

This was launched during 2018: junctionjournalism.com

Read more

Report by Pacific Media Centre

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Hard-hitting documentary explores Tongan ‘deportee dumping’ lives

In Gangsters in Paradise – Deportees of Tonga, Vice embeds with four Tongan nationals who have been sent back to where they were born after serving prison time in New Zealand and the United States. Video: Vice Zealandia

By Philip Cass

“It’s like crabs being stuck in a bucket scratching each other to get out.”

“It’s like rubbish dumping.”

Those are two views about the crisis facing Tonga as countries like the United States, Australia and New Zealand deport criminals to the kingdom.

The first comes from a deportee who talks about how it feels being sent back to struggle for a living in a country with which he and other former prisoners are often barely familiar.

The other is from Tonga’s former Commissioner of Prisons, who wants Western countries to take more responsibility for the people they deport and stop treating Tonga – along with Samoa and Fiji – as dumping grounds for people they regard as “rubbish”.

-Partners-

READ MORE: Responses to Gangsters in Paradise

They are, he reminds us, human beings.

The two views come from a hard-hitting documentary, Gangsters in Paradise – The Deportees of Tonga. A regular contributor to Kaniva Tonga news, photographer Todd Henry, acted as associate producer for the Vice Zealandia documentary.

Talia’uli Prescott … permanently banned from NZ – “I loved being a bad guy, but now I want to be a good guy,” Image: Vice/Kaniva News

Statistics show that the United States deported 700 criminals to Tonga between 1992 and January 2016, an average of 29 criminals a year. However, police figures show that up to 40 percent of the criminals deported to Tonga have come from New Zealand.

Most of the deportees are men between 25-35 years and have usually done time for assault, robbery, burglary, theft and drug offences.

20 years absences
Most have lived outside Tonga for 20 years.

Last year former Deputy Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni said about 400 Tongans had been deported from the US, Australia and New Zealand since 2012.

More than half had partners or children living overseas.

Gangsters in Paradise is not comfortable viewing. It begins with an interview with a deportee who admits to having been jailed when he was barely out of childhood for shooting another boy four times in the stomach.

Violence played a big part in his upbringing, as it did in the lives of other deportees. For others, migration and re-migration provided a disturbed and unstable childhood.

Talia’uli Prescott talks about joining the King Cobras in New Zealand. They were aiga he tells the camera, explaining that it is a Samoan word for family.

“When you don’t have a family, they give you one,” he explains.

Permanently banned
He is permanently banned from New Zealand.

“That’s the only world I know,” he says.

“It’s very sad.”

By good fortune he has a job at Queen Salote wharf and says that he doesn’t want his legacy to be as somebody who was deported to Tonga.

“I loved being a bad guy, but now I want to be a good guy,” he says.

Other deportees have had a harder time fitting in.

As American deportee Sione Ngaue says: “We’re judged before they even get to know us. We have a red ‘X’ against us.”

Family land
Some deportees, like Ngaue, have staked a claim to family land. He works 6 hectares after a dispute with his uncles.

While some of the interviewees regard their time in prison as a chance to rethink their lives and gain a different perspective, others have brought nothing but trouble to Tonga.

Tonga is in the midst of a methamphetamine crisis and some deportees have gone back into the drugs trade.

One scene in the film shows a dealer preparing methamphetamine for sale, boasting that he can make TP$5000 (NZ$3200) from his Sunday night trading.

And sympathetic as he might be to their plight, Prisons Commissioner Sione Falemanu says deportees have brought more crime to the kingdom and sparked a wave of robberies.

With the Tongan diaspora spread between Sydney and Salt Lake City, this issue is clearly not going to go away. After a public screening of the documentary in Auckland last week, members of the audience who spoke during a talanoa, were sympathetic, but others warned that the deporting countries would also have to take note of what was happening.

“In all honesty, this is an ongoing issue, and believe it or not, it won’t be resolved in the near future. We’re going to have a lot of deportees. And to be honest, we need to start removing the [negative] perception around deportees,” one audience member said.

However, another warned: “If New Zealand does not actually pay attention to what we are seeing, it’s going to backfire on New Zealand. We’re already seeing it.”

Dr Philip Cass is an editorial adviser for Kaniva Tonga.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Toktok No 38 / Summer 2019

Pacific Media Centre

ISBN/code: ISSN 1175-0472

Publication date: Monday, February 18, 2019

Publisher: Pacific Media Centre

‘BE COURAGEOUS IN YOUR QUEST FOR TRUTH,’ PMC DIRECTOR TELLS PACIFIC JOURNALISM GRADUATES

Pacific journalism academic Professor David Robie believes the media play a critical role in exposing abuses of power in a world increasingly hostile towards journalists.

However, journalists in the Pacific are frequently “persecuted by smallminded politicians with scant regard for the role of the media,” he says.

Speaking at the 18th University of the South Pacific Journalism Student Awards ceremony at Laucala campus in Suva, Fiji, last October, Dr Robie said despite the growing global dangers surrounding the profession, journalism was critically important for democracy.

Dr Robie said that while such “ghastly fates” for journalists – such as the extrajudicial killing of Saudi dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey earlier that month – may seem remote in the Pacific, there were plenty of attacks on media freedom to contend with, while trolls in the region and state threats to internet freedom were “also rife”.

Read more

Plus:

+ New communication award created for Pasifika women

+ Coverage of New Caledonia/Kanaky referendum, November 2018

+ Wansolwara and AUT coverage of Fiji elections, November 2018
 

Report by Pacific Media Centre

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Asia Pacific Journalism projects and internships 2019

The Pacific Media Centre is running several Asia-Pacific projects again this year and along with Asia Pacific Journalism (Semester 2) we have a new special paper to match – International Journalism Project (JOUR810).

The deadline for applications is Friday, March 1, at 3pm.

Send applications to: jessie.hsu@aut.ac.nz
Copy to: david.robie@aut.ac.nz

This year’s projects on offer:

Bearing Witness climate change project: Two weeks in Fiji in mid-semester break to experience and cover climate issues. Based at the University of the South Pacific. The PMC pays for return airfares, accommodation and a living koha. Apply and if selected, this counts towards JOUR810 international Journalism Project. More information. Contact: david.robie@aut.ac.nz
Possibly a Fiji elections project in the Second Semester mid-semester break (watch this space).

Pacific Media Watch freedom project: 10 hours a week, reporting and editing on media freedom, ethics, educational, training and ownership issues for the digital websites Asia Pacific Report and Pacific Media Watch. More information. Contact: david.robie@aut.ac.nz

NZ Institute for Pacific Research reporting Pacific research project: A part-time internship with the University of Auckland’s Centre for Pacific Studies, but working out of AUT. Organised by the Pacific Media Centre in collaboration with NZIPR. 10 hours a week. This assignment involves researching and news gathering and writing profiles about Pacific researchers and their projects. More Information. Contact: david.robie@aut.ac.nz Managed by Research Operations Manager Dr Gerry Cottrell at NZIPR.

Asia Pacific Report international news website: Internships are available on application. More information. Contact: david.robie@aut.ac.nz

Postgraduate students are preferred but there may be opportunities for final-year journalism major students.

Below: Kendall Hutt, one of the 2017 Bearing Witness climate journalists, talks to David Robie about the project. Video: PMC

Report by Pacific Media Centre

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Papuans plan to boycott Indonesian elections, say independence activists

Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua spokesperson Surya Anta (centre) speaking at LBH Jakarta last week. Image: CNN Indonesia

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

West Papuan people will not take part in Indonesia’s 2019 presidential and legislative elections, say the Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-WP) and the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP).

This is because they accuse the Indonesian government of illegal political practices in Papua, of failing to uphold the rights of the Papuan people and because both presidential candidates have a bad track record on Papua.

“Indonesia is a state which since the declaration of the Trikora operation on December 19, 1961, has conducted illegal political activities in the territory”, said FRI-WP spokesperson Surya Anta at the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Jakarta) offices in Central Jakarta last week.

READ MORE: Surprise at no mention of Papua in presidential hopefuls’ speeches

“Because of this we are taking a position and declaring that we will not take part in the 2019 presidential or legislative elections,” he said.

Anta explained that what they mean by the territory of West Papua was an area extending from Numbai to Merauke, Raja Ampat to Baliem and Biak Island to Adi Island.

-Partners-

The groups also believe that the contestants in the 2019 election on April 17 are the same as those in previous elections where candidates are only interested in gathering votes from the Papuan people.

However, there has been no effort by the legislative, presidential or vice-presidential candidates to uphold the rights of the West Papuan people, they say.

Maintaining colonialism
Speaking in the same vein, Student Struggle Center for National Liberation (Pembebasan) national collective secretary-general Samsi Mahmud said that the Papuan people were not interested in the 2019 elections.

Aside from Indonesia’s illegal political activities, according to Mahmud none of the political parties are articulating the wishes of the Papuan people and the elections are only aimed at maintaining the practice of colonialism.

“[The elections] are a tool for the colonial government to put local power holders in place to safeguard their interests”, said Mahmud.

AMP member Erepul Sama said there was no difference between the two presidential candidates, incumbent President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Prabowo Subianto, particularly in their handling of human rights violations.

“Prabowo himself has a bad track record in Papua such as the Mapenduma incident. But this doesn’t mean that Jokowi is any better”, said Sama.

“Jokowi has allowed human rights violations to occur again and again, for example in the bloody Paniai case which has still not been resolved”, he added.

Aside from declaring that they will not take part in the 2019 elections, the FRP-WP and the AMP made three other demands:

  • West Papuans be given the right to self-determination,
  • All organic and non-organic troops be withdrawn from Papua, and
  • Journalists be given free access to Papua.

Background
Operation Trikora was declared by Indonesian founding President Sukarno in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta on December 19, 1961.

It was an Indonesian military operation aimed at harassing and forcing the Dutch out of Netherlands New Guinea in 1961-62 rather than one intended to suppress a nascent independence movement.

The Mapenduma operation was a botched rescue operation in the remote Mapenduma area of West Papua led by then Kopassus commander Prabowo Subianto in 1996 to secure the release of World Wildlife Fund researches taken hostage by the Free Papua Movement.

The attempt ended in a military attack on Geselema village resulting in the death of up to eight civilians.

On December 8, 2014, barely two months after Widodo was sworn in as president, five students were killed and 17 others seriously injured when police and military opened fire on a group of protesters and local residents in the town of Enarotali, Paniai regency.

Shortly after the incident, Widodo personally pledged to resolve the case but four years into his presidency no one has been held accountable for the shootings.

Translated by James Balowski for the Indo-Left News Service. The original title of the article was “Golput, Aktivis West Papua Tuding Jokowi Prabowo Sama Saja”.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Indonesian smear campaigns target Jokowi ahead of presidential election

By Ainur Rohmah in Jakarta

Fake news and hate speech are inundating Indonesia on and offline with the country’s general election just two months away and with presidential candidates Prabowo Subianto and incumbent Joko Widodo locked in a contest for the top spot.

Jokowi, as the president is known, remains clearly in the lead with as much as 20 percent of the voters picking him despite his being the target of torrents of fake news, according to several recent surveys.

The Prabowo team claims the race is closer based on internal surveys – which they decline to share.

READ MORE: Meet the fake news trolls who influenced the US and Indonesian polls for money

A survey by the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) shows Jokowi and his partner, Islamic leader Ma’ruf Amin, with voter approval at 54.8 percent, while Prabowo and his running mate, businessman Sandiaga Uno, are well behind at 31.0 percent.

But in an example of the depth of misleading advertising, survey results of the Indonesian Telematics Society (Mastel) say nearly 45 percent of 1,116 respondents surveyed said they receive fake news and hoaxes every day.

-Partners-

Unfortunately, 30.3 percent of respondents say they have difficulty checking the truth of such reports, with more than 75 percent of respondents agreeing that false news can disrupt community harmony.

Political issues dominate the fake news transmissions, according to the survey, followed by misleading reports on religion and health.

Chat applications
They can take the form of photos, videos, and narratives, and are mostly distributed via social media (Facebook and Twitter) and chat applications such as Whatsapp.

Among Indonesia’s 265.4 million population, fully half or 132.7 million are internet users, based on research conducted by We Are Social, with almost all of them – 130 million – active social media users.

At least 192 million voters will select the president and their representatives in parliament simultaneously across the country on April 17.

The latest research by the social media monitoring site PoliticaWave found that hoaxes mostly target Jokowi.

“From the presidential elections in 2014 to 2019, it appears that Jokowi is a victim of political hoaxes,” said executive director PoliticaWave Jose Rizal at a press conference in Jakarta.

PoliticaWave also found that the numbers of hoax issues have been rising. The 10 biggest hoax issues relating to the 2019 election include a fake attack on activist Ratna Sarumpaet, who first accused the Jokowi camp of being behind it.

She later switched her allegiance to the president. Others deal with reports of very large government debt; allegations that several containers filled with ballots had been discovered as already cast for Jokowi; toll electronic transactions associated with debt to China; and fake e-KTPs from China.

Many accusations
Jokowi has been accused of being a member of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), of being a closet Christian, of using foreign consultants and of having a fake high school certificate.

Others include that 10 million workers from China have entered Indonesia; and that vice presidential candidate Ma’ruf Amin will be replaced by the former Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaya Purnama, who was arrested on trumped up blasphemy charges that played an integral role in his defeat.

“The ten biggest hoax issues are aimed at attacking Jokowi,” said Yose.

Claiming that he was fed up with accusations and hoaxes against him, Jokowi in recent speeches has sought to clarify the various negative allegations and to go after his political opponents.

In early February, he hinted – without mentioning specifically – a campaign team that carried out so-called “Russian propaganda,” a name that has gained increased currency with spectacular charges over Russian interference in the 2016 US election.

The term is construed as an accusation against Prabowo’s camp.

“The problem is that there is a campaign team that prepares Russian propaganda which is (marked) at any time to issue a blast of slander and hoax,” Jokowi said while addressing thousands of supporters in the city of Surabaya.

Foreign consultants
Jokowi accused the Prabowo camp of hiring foreign consultants, who he said were only oriented to victory without considering that their strategy could potentially divide society. He also criticised the opposition for often accusing him of being pro-foreigners even though they themselves used the services of foreigners.

“Their consultants are foreign consultants,” he said. “Then who is the foreign stooge? Do not let us be treated continuously by lies. Our people are smart, whether in the city or in the village,” he said.

Gerindra deputy chairman Fadli Zon denied the allegations.

“We do not use foreign consultants. We can’t afford to pay (foreign consultants),” he said.

Prabowo’s team responded by accusing Jokowi himself of using the services of a foreign consultant named Stanley Greenberg. The accusation was based on an article on a website stating that Stanley had been a consultant to Jokowi.

“A note for all these inquiries,” Greenberg responded publicly. “I have never worked for Mr Widodo in any way. The website you mention is not accurate nor affiliated with me in any capacity.

“Accurate information on our past clients is listed on my official website,” Greenberg wrote through his Twitter account @stangreenberg, attaching his official website.

‘Russian propaganda’
The controversy about “Russian propaganda” also provoked the Russian Embassy in Jakarta to comment.

“We underline that Russia’s principal position is not to intervene in domestic affairs and electoral processes in foreign countries, including Indonesia which is our close friend and important partner,” wrote the Russian Embassy through its official Twitter account @RusEmbJakarta.

But Jokowi’s special team of Cakra 19 said it was convinced that “Russian propaganda” was now being applied in Indonesia, by adopting what is known as “firehoses of falsehoods,” an operation used by Russian hackers between 2012-2017 in the Crimea crisis, the Ukrainian conflict and the civil war in Syria.

“In Russia, this modus operandi has emerged as long ago as the 1870s through the Narodniki movement. This movement was used to bring down the Russian Czar by continually raising negative issues,” said the chairperson of the Cakra 19 team, Andi Widjajanto in a written statement.

“Operation blast of slander aims to make lies defeat the truth. This operation wants to destroy public trust in political authorities, including the media,” said the former Cabinet Secretary and defense expert.

Prabowo’s campaign team, known as the National Winning Agency (BPN), has launched allegations that the Jokowi government has used legal means to get rid of political opponents ahead of the upcoming election.

“Now people who have the potential to gain votes in the BPN circle have begun to be crushed one by one,” Gerindra Party general secretary Ahmad Muzani said.

Hate speech
He charged that a musician-turned politician, Ahmad Dhani, and a cleric leading the Movement 212 – a group of conservative Muslims who held a series of demonstrations against former Jakarta governor Basuki – named Slamet Ma’arif had been the target of what he called “criminalisation”.

Dhani was sentenced to 18 months in prison at the end of January on a charge of hate speech. Ma’arif members are now suspected of a series of alleged campaign violations.

Several other names in Prabowo’s camp were also involved in legal cases or even jailed. Muzani claimed the police were quick to investigate cases involving Prabowo’s sympathizers but not with cases involving or suspected of involving Jokowi’s supporters.

“We have submitted many reports (to the police), but it seems that there is not enough evidence. Whereas when our party was reported, (it was said) there was enough evidence. This is no longer inequality, it is bias,” Muzani said.

Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko denied Muzani’s allegations, emphasizing that the government did not intervene in the legal process.

“That there are (BPN members) who are entangled in legal matters, look to yourselves. It may be something that is wrong (with themselves). So don’t always blame the government,” Said Moeldoko as quoted by kompas.com

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Timorese journalists protest outside Philippine embassy over Ressa arrest

Timor-Leste Press Union president Francisco Belo condemning the arrest and charge of “cyber libel” against Rappler publisher Maria Ressa. Image: Antonio Dasiparu/TLPU

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

The Timor-Leste Press Union has protested in front of the Philippine Embassy in the capital Dili in solidarity with indicted Journalist Maria Ressa over her “persecution” and in defence of freedom of the press.

Rappler CEO and editor Maria Ressa is known and respected for her work as a journalist in bringing the plight of the suffering people of Timor-Leste under a quarter century of Indonesian occupation prior to renewed independence in 1999.

The Timorese journalist protest was broadcast by the public broadcaster RTTL.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer, one of the leading Philippine national dailies, reported today that Ressa had accused President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration of acting like a dictatorship and using the law as a weapon to muzzle dissent.

READ MORE: Rappler’s Maria Ressa sees threat to democracy

“What we’re seeing … is a level of impunity that I frankly haven’t seen, and I’ve been a journalist for more than 30 some odd years,” Ressa said after posting bail in a Manila court on Thursday.

-Partners-

Ressa, who was selected by Time magazine as one of its Persons of the Year last year, is the head of Rappler Inc., which has aggressively covered Duterte’s administration.

Rappler publisher Maria Ressa speaking at a media conference after her release on bail in Manila. Image: Philippine Daily Inquirer

She was arrested Wednesday over a libel complaint from a businessman. Duterte’s government claimed the arrest was a normal step in response to the complaint and had nothing to do with press freedom.

Universities condemn arrest
University leaders and student groups in the Philippines have also condemned the arrest of Ressa, saying schools must defend the truth and press freedom, reports Rappler.

Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) president Father Ramon Jose Villarin and De La Salle Philippines president Brother Armin Luistro urged the universities’ communities to speak out and defend democracy.

“The university shares Maria’s challenge to shine the light on power and be brave in witnessing to the truth. Veritas liberabit vos (The truth will set you free),” Villarin said.

“Lies and false promises of unbridled power, when met with silence, will only make us a nation of slaves,” he added.

Luistro urged Lasallians to “vote with their feet” in the upcoming 2019 elections and make their voices heard to defend press freedom.

Ressa was arrested in connection with a cyber libel case filed by the Justice Department.

The University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman Student Council and ADMU publication The Guidon denounced the arrest, saying students would continue to hold the line with Ressa and Rappler.

‘Make our voices heard’
Here are the statements of support from various schools:

Brother Armin Luistro FSC, president of De La Salle Philippines:

“Let’s give our all out support as Lasallians to Rappler. Let’s defend press freedom. Let’s make our voices heard. Let’s vote with our feet and stand with Maria Ressa!”

Father Jose Ramon Villarin SJ, president of Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU):

“In my statement of 13 October 2017, I had occasion to ‘call on everyone in the community to defend our democratic institutions” and to state that “[t]his call to defend our democratic institutions is not even a matter of political partisanship or persuasion. It is a call that is borne out of our conviction about what is right and just and truly democratic.’

“While such pronouncements then pertained to government institutions in particular, the same should be said with regard to freedom of speech, of expression and of the press. No less than the Philippine Constitution recognises ‘the vital role of communication and information in nation-building’ (Constitution, Art. II. Sec. 24) and ‘the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press’ (Constitution, Art. III, Sec. 4).

“There are several rights and freedoms necessary for a democratic society to function. The right to life, the right to due process, the sweet freedoms of speech and of the press – all of these were once considered sacred, inviolable. But as of late these have been called into question; mocked, attacked, degraded.

Rappler, and its brave leader Maria Ressa, have consistently held the line against the erosion of these liberties. It is journalists like her who keep us all informed about the state of our nation, covering different areas of our national life, contributing immeasurably to the wealth and value of our country.

“Too often these days, it is they who wage daily battles against fake news, expose corruption and bring to light illegal practices and wrongdoing by those who lead us.”

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

‘Don’t be silent,’ says defiant Maria Ressa in fight for press freedom

Rappler publisher condemns Duterte government’s “abuse of power”. Video: ABS-CBN

By Iris Gonzales in Manila

The Philippine press has seen many dark days but Maria Ressa’s arrest this week is among the worst.

It signals dangerous times for our country’s democracy, 33 years since it was restored in 1986.

Ressa is a veteran journalist who founded the news website Rappler – and a thorn in the side of President Rodrigo Duterte.

READ MORE: Journalist’s arrest in Philippines sparks demonstrations, fears of a wider crackdown

The feisty journalist, hailed as Time Person of the Year for 2018, was arrested around 5 pm on Wednesday, February 13, by officers of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Maria Ressa … “You have to be outraged like what I’m doing now.” Image: Maria Ressa FB

-Partners-

The arrest warrant was issued by a local court the day before in connection with a “cyber-libel” case filed by the Philippine Department of Justice against Ressa and former Rappler researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr.

The case relates to a story published in May 2012. However, the cyber libel law the story allegedly violated was enacted in September 2012 – some four months later.

The Justice Department filed the case following a complaint lodged by business person Wilfredo Keng, whom Rappler identified in an article as having alleged links to illegal drugs and human trafficking, based on intelligence reports.

‘Abuse of power’
Ressa described her indictment and arrest this week as an “abuse of power” and “weaponisation of the law” against a citizen. She had to spend a night at the NBI office because her warrant was served at 5 pm – a time when government offices were already closed, making it impossible for Ressa to post bail.

The following day she was granted temporary liberty, after posting a P100,000 (US$1900) bail bond at a Manila court.

“These legal acrobatics show how far the government will go to silence journalists, including the pettiness of forcing me to spend the night in jail,” she said.

While Keng had every right to seek redress in the courts, Ressa’s arrest indicates a readiness of government officials to use their power and weaponise the law to go after individuals they perceive as enemies or threats.

Every journalist or critic of the administration is vulnerable. Every action which the government may not like may be put under scrutiny and brought to court.

Let us not forget that President Duterte’s critic, Senator Leila de Lima, is still in jail because of trumped up drug-related charges.

This time, it’s Ressa who is being harassed by the government. But she won’t take it sitting down.

‘Be outraged’
“I’m saying and I’m appealing to you not to be silent, especially if you’re next. You have to be outraged like what I’m doing now,” she said minutes after posting bail.

In a statement, Rappler warned: “No one is safe.”

Apart from cyber-libel, Ressa and Rappler are facing five tax cases. In December 2018, Ressa posted bail twice over alleged violation of the Tax Code. Rappler has also faced revocation of its corporate registration papers by the Securities and Exchange Commission

But, headed by some of the country’s best investigative journalists, Rappler said it would not be cowed by attempts at intimidation and vowed to continue its journalistic duties. ‘We will continue to tell the truth and report what we see and hear. We are first and foremost journalists.’

Ressa’s case will come up in March but her lawyer JJ Disini said they would file a motion to quash and question the information regarding the cyber libel case filed against his client.

The Consortium on Democracy and Disinformation, a group of journalists, bloggers and other cause-oriented individuals, has condemned what happened and strongly denounced the continuing harassment of Ressa.

“Her arrest,” it said, “is a betrayal of the guarantees of press freedom and freedom of expressed enshrined in the Constitution. More, its callous execution is an indictment of a weakened justice system; its devious grounds a dangerous fabrication that affects not just journalists, but everyone.”

The international Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) have also denounced Ressa’s arrest as “an outrage”.

What happened to Ressa can happen to anyone in my country. Every freedom-loving Filipino must realize this and should stand up against any action that will curtail our freedom as individuals.

As Rappler says, we must all hold the line.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media