‘Trolls’ of women in media hit

The International Association of Women in Radio and Television has lambasted the “online trolls” supporting the government of President Rodrigo Duterte for attacking, threatening and harassing Filipino women journalists in the country.

IAWRT, a global organization of women journalists, also called on the chairman of Association of the Southeast Asian Nations to uphold press freedom and protect women journalists in the region.

“Today, Filipino women journalists are subjected to threats and harassment by online trolls supporting the Duterte government,” the group stated in its statement during the opening of the 37th Biennial Conference in Quezon City on Thursday.

“We are calling on the Asean heads of state to uphold press freedom and stop the attacks on our colleagues,” IAWRT president Gunilla Ivarsson said.

The statement was triggered in part by Communications Assistant Secretary Margaux “Mocha” Uson asking Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar to reclassify and move the Malacañang Press Corps to social media, which is under her office’s supervision.

The MPC denounced Uson’s move, stressing that the affairs of MPC was “not in any way under the control and supervision of the PCOO or any government agency.”

“The MPC deplores any attempt to curtail press freedom and will continue to ensure a strong free press, keep the public informed and the government in check,” it said.

Uson wrote a subsequent letter to Andanar requesting copies of documents pertaining to the “status” of the MPC, including “copies of the Securities and Exchange Commission documents on the MPC’s registration.”

IAWRT noted that even President Duterte has also lashed out at the media for critical reporting.

“Press freedom is a human right,” the group said.

Some of the recipients of these online attacks, the group said, are Jamela Alindogan, Inday Espina-Varona, and Lottie Salarda, among others.

The group noted that the Philippines, the host of the 31st Asean Summit, is ranked fifth in the 2017 Global Impunity Index by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Five journalists have been killed under Duterte’s administration, and 178 murdered since 1986, the index noted.

Twelve women journalists have been killed in the line of duty since 1986. Four were among the victims of the infamous 2009 Ampatuan massacre, which is commemorated every November 23, the International Day to End Impunity.

“Like the rest of the cases of media killings, not one of the perpetrators has been brought to justice,” IAWRT said.

The group is set to launch a safety handbook specifically directed to women journalists.

IAWRT is a non-government organization in “consultative status” with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

Topics: International Association of Women , President Rodrigo Duterte

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