Encouraging violence against the media has no room in a democratic society

Amid the intensified attack against civil liberties and the recent release of the 2019 World Impunity Index identifying the Philippines the 5th worst on delivering justice for media, a certain Chito D. Herbolingo encouraged attacks against journalists in his comment in one of the articles of Northern Dispatch posted on its Facebook Page.

In the comment section of the article “PH 5th worst in providing justice for journalists”, shared by Nordis on the page, Herbolingo wrote: “Kill all CPP-NPA Propagandists disguised as journalists!”

Written by veteran journalist Ace Alegre, the story is about the standing of the Philippines on the 2019 World Impunity Index released by New York-based freedom watchdog Committee to Protect Journalist.

According to his Facebook profile, Herbolingo is the head consultant for PEON Management Consultancy Service. He is from Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte, but currently living in Bonifacio Global City.

However, more disturbing is the Facebook account Joel Campilis, putting a “love” mark on the comment, which can be interpreted as endorsing attacks against journalists whom they suspect as members of the CPP-NPA. Nordis believe that 54th IB Civil-Military Operations officer Staff Sargeant Joel Campilis owns and manage the account based on a previous exchange on the platform.

These actions – the comments and reactions, even on social media, are direct threats to the safety of our staff and correspondents, and the free press in general.

This action also betrays Joel Campilis’ earlier pronouncements that “the protection of rights to life, liberty, and property is the AFP’s utmost concern, that is their mandate…” He also commented in one of our earlier posts that “protection of HR is inherited responsibility from our ancestors historically, [biblically] and philosophically.”

More than exposing his violent mindset with this simple act, Campilis also exposed his lies on wanting to solve the attempted murder of our Ifugao correspondent Brandon Lee. Before he was shot, the military and police vilified Lee and linked him with the communist rebels. He is now recovering in the United States, but while fighting for his life, Lee repeatedly told his family that the army perpetrated the attack.

Northern Dispatch will not take threats like this lightly. For years, we have been at the receiving end of the government’s vilification and red-tagging campaign. Even before the attack against Brandon, most of our members have been the subject of direct threats and harassment, with one facing trumped-up charges of rebellion.

We reiterate that encouraging violence against the media and to those exercising their rights, even on social media posts, should not become a norm and tolerated. Such actions have no room in a democratic society nor on our page. # nordis.net

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