MANILA, Philippines — Some of the Philippines’ most prominent bloggers came out Friday, January 19, to support the first of a series of “Black Friday” protests against the threatened closure of news site Rappler and other threats to freedom of the press and expression as Malacañang vowed to observe maximum tolerance.
The “Bloggers for Freedom” simultaneously issued a statement late Friday morning, saying they were standing “for the rights to free expression and to free speech” and that their “first responsibility is to protect these rights.”
“We thus stand with Rappler, its right to exist, the rights of its working journalists and contributors, and the rights of its community of readers,” they said as they denounced “moves to silence and scare journalists, bloggers and media practitioners just because the President and his ardent supporters dislike their news and views.”
Some 60 bloggers, including past winners of the Philippine Blog Awards as well as veterans of past campaigns in defense of lumad rights, disaster relief and environmental protection, signed the statement:
Loi Landicho of The Professional Heckler, Pinoy Ako Blog’s Jover Laurio, Helga Weber, lawyer Jesus Falcis, Jane Uymatiao, Dale Bacar, Rod Magaru, Ely Valendez, Marcelle Fabie, Global Voices’ Karlo Mongaya, former congressman Raymond Palatino, thought-leader Stefan Punongbayan; Technology blogger Jam Ancheta, journalists Julius Mariveles and Inday Espina Varona, finance guru Fitz Villafuerte, professional photographer Fritz Tentativa, UP professor Mykel Andrada, tour guide Carlos Celdran, travel bloggers Estan Cabigas, Enrico Dee, Melo Villareal, Acee Vitangcol and Czarina Maye Noche;
Eugene Alvin Villar, Julius Rocas, Jon Limjap, Markku Seguerra, Hancel Reyes, JM Mariano, JM Tuazon, Brian Ong, Flow Galindez, Jane Uymatiao, Johnn Mendoza, Reginald Agsalon, John Clifford Sibayan, Ramon Nocon, Mc Richard Viana Paglicawan, Saul de Jesus,;Rhadem Camlian Morados, Yusuf Ledesma, Myk Mykapalaran Cruz, Tina Antonio, Renz Daniel de Vera, Alex Lapa, Tess Termulo, Zena Bernardo, James Romer V. Velina, Ricky Rivera, Mark Will Mayo Magallanes, Eyriche Cortez, RJ Barrete, Peachy Tan,, Christian Melanie, Jann Medina, Carlo Arvisu, Reynaldo Pagsolingan Jr., and Dino Manrique.
Meanwhile, presidential spokesman Harry Roque claimed the Black Friday protest “is a testament that freedom is alive and democracy is alive in the Philippines.”
“The Palace position on the matter remains clear and consistent: We allow public displays of constructive criticism as part of full exercise of the protesters’ rights to express their grievances.”
“Authorities, as a matter of standard operating procedure, will observe maximum tolerance and respect the protesters’ right to peaceful assembly,” he added.
Aside from the Metro Manila rally at the Scout Circle on Timog and Tomas Morato, protests will also be held in several major cities in the provinces.
Among the groups that are joining or voiced support for Black Friday are the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines, which was “formed during martial law to defend and uphold press freedom.”
“Today we stand firm and encourage our members to wear black and support the protest this evening,” it said.
Among the groups that organized Black Friday are the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, the media and artists alliance Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity, the alternative media consortium Altermidya and the College Editors Guild of the Philippines.