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IN July 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his first SONA (State of the Nation Address, which is the equivalent of the president’s State of the Union Address here in the U.S.).

President Duterte faced an excited audience eager to hear what he would say after winning the election by convincing number.

(I’m not sure if the same number who voted for him still support him after 1.5 years in office. There are talks from among political observers it could be only half of what it used to be, or even less. Read the Filipino citizens’ reactions in social media. Many are either irritated or exasperated, or both.)

In that SONA, he assured his people “he was not vindictive.”

“We cannot move forward if we allow the past to pull us back...I will not waste precious time dwelling on the sins of the past.”

Barely 19 months after delivering that speech, her staunch critic who, as head of Human Rights group in the Philippines investigated the alleged Davao Death Squad while Mr. Duterte was mayor of Davao City, Sen. Leila de Lima, is languishing in jail.

I’m not saying Mr. Duterte is behind the incarceration of his bitter political enemy.

Maybe, simply coincidental he is the president.

Earlier this week, Mr. Duterte’s people in the Securities and Exchange Commission cancelled the registration of Rappler, an online news source in the Philippines (which is critical of Duterte) that sends fair and fearless news stories to Filipinos at home and the rest of the world.

Thus, prompting a former representative in PH Congress to write, “Rappler’s problem has nothing to do with its ownership or control. Its biggest mistake is in telling the truth and being critical in this era of tyranny and fake news.”

The SEC decision was seen around the world, including the Filipino American Press Club of New York which issued a strongly-worded statement against the cancellation, as an attack on free press and as political harassment of a critical news group in the Internet.


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STATEMENT OF THE FILIPINO AMERICAN PRESS CLUB OF NEW YORK
ON THE CANCELLATION OF RAPPLER’S INCORPORATION


January 16, 2018


Shutting down Rappler is a serious blow against press freedom


It is with concern that the Filipino American Press Club of New York views the recent decision of the Philippines’ Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to revoke the certificate of incorporation of the online news site Rappler.


Revoking Rappler’s certificate of incorporation effectively shuts down the news company’s operation, and strikes a serious blow against press freedom in the Philippines.


The press is an institution that is vital to the full functioning of democratic systems – it serves to keep the people informed so that the they can make informed decisions and be better citizens and participants in society; it serves as a counter-balance against those who wield economic and political power; and it also serves as a watchdog against abuse of power.


Only a free press, free from intimidation and harassment, can effectively perform these tasks and serve the public. Any attempt to muzzle the press diminishes its capacity to be of service to the people.


We call on our fellow journalists, the Filipino people, and Filipinos in the U.S. and around the world, to remain vigilant, and to defend press freedom and freedom of expression in the Philippines.


Contact Person: Marivir R. Montebon, 
President

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Rappler is notorious for its forceful criticisms of the way the bloody Duterte anti-drug campaign has been waged by the Philippine National Police.

It has been repeatedly reported that up to 14,000 poor suspected drug users/dealers had been killed extrajudicially, virtually, without accountability, either because of unknown killers or Mr. Duterte’s assurances that no policeman would go to jail.

Rappler also published an analytical study of the hordes of pro-Duterte trolls that appear in groups in social media to “demolish” Duterte critics.

I have been victimized by pro-Duterte trolls twice.

But, the swarm gave up when they realized they could not beat me.

Hehe!

My media colleague from ABS-CBN, once, but intense.

He had to change his profile picture in Facebook three times to show he couldn’t be intimidated.

He seemed to have wanted to throw the trolls out of a helicopter he was riding.

LOL.

Evidently, due to public opinion worldwide against the SEC decision, the securities office issued an order late one night allowing Rappler to continue publishing news in the pendency of their appeal.


You reap what you sow


These current events bring me to a Biblical verse which says “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

Meaning, you eventually have to face up to the consequences of your actions.

“Anything that happens to you today might be a repercussion from a previous life or that kind of a sense of you reap what you sow as an individual.”

In Tagalog, “kapag nagtanim ka ng hangin, bagyo ang aanihin.”

In modern-day politics in the Philippines, we have witnessed the truth to above saying.

After almost 20 years of dictatorship creating untold sufferings and political vacuum in the Philippines that made some people forgot how democracy worked in their own country, the Marcos family was kicked out of their own country.

Former Presidents Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo spent years in detention.

Remember what happened to the late Supreme Court Justice Renato Corona during the term of President Benigno Aquino III?

Recently, Aquino was indicted in connection with his handling of the Mamasapano massacre.

Now, Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is in hot impeachment chair.

I wonder what President Rodrigo Duterte and his loyal army of friends like the Alvarezes, Gordons, Calidas and Aguirres will reap after his term, or if tenure comes first.


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DR. MELITA C. DIONISIO, PH.D.


Personal


I’d like to extend my warm greetings to my sister, Dr. Melita C. Dionisio, Ph.D., and my dear niece, Pinky Dionisio Uy.

Happy Birthday to both.

Best wishes.

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PINKY DIONISIO UY