By NATIONAL UNION OF JOURNALISTS OF THE PHILIPPINES – BAGUIO-BENGUET CHAPTER
We condemn and demand a stop to the continuing attack against Sherwin de Vera, an editorial staff member of the Northern Dispatch Weekly.
We have received information that he was included among the respondents to a petition of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New People’s Army (NPA) as terrorist organizations. Among the persons named in the said petition were Victoria Tauli Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur for Indigenous People; Atty. 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.
Last December, De Vera, also a known environmental advocate was unlawfully arrested and illegally detained for baseless rebellion charges. He was released on bail in January.
Prior to his arrest he was tailed by unidentified men in July. In the same month, unidentified men believed to be military agents questioned people he visited at the University of Northern Philippines in Vigan City about his whereabouts.
These attacks puts him and his family in danger.
Karapatan, a Philippine human rights watchdog said that the DOJ listed some 600 individuals in its petiton for proscription. Karapatan further said that the DOJ’s list takes off from the Order of Battle list of the past Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration where those people listed ended up killed or arrested on trumped up charges.
This is a clear effort of the present administration to silence its ctitics and to sow fear among the people. If the administration can include known rights defenders who even work for the UN, journalists and lawyers in its terrorist list, how much more for common folks?
This is reminiscent of the Marcos regime when journalists critical to the government were among the first to be silenced. The Duterte administration, like its predecessors failed to learn from history that draconian measures will only result to more human rights violations.
But history also teaches us that a united people can topple a tyrant; that journalists too were among those who fought against a dictator.
Now, more than ever, in an era of lies, misinformation and disinformation; journalists, writers, artists who dare to stand for the truth and for what is right are much more needed.
We reiterate the call for the dismissal of all trumped up charges filed against De Vera. As we call on the DOJ to withdraw their petition. # nordis.net