Press Release
March 10, 2018

Dispatch from Crame No. 258:
Sen. Leila M. de Lima's statement on Rappler's Tax Evasion and Cyberlibel cases


The Duterte government's hostility against Rappler is a classic trademark of a vindictive and tyrannical government telling media to toe the line.

Just weeks ago, Rappler's license was revoked and its operations now hangs in the balance pending appeal of the SEC decision. Still not satisfied, Duterte has banned Rappler's Pia Ranada from Malacanang complex and, now, wherever the President goes, Ranada has been disallowed to cover the event. And then these--tax evasion and cyber libel cases. This is a clear case of harassment and persecution not just of Rappler but of media in general.

Media as the fourth estate is being tamed, if not silenced, right under our very noses. There has been a deliberate jugular attack against Filipinos' democratic rights and fundamental freedoms considering the crucial role of a free press in disseminating information, articulating diverse opinions to ensure checks and balance, and providing platforms through which citizens could communicate with their government and engage with their leaders.

Ang pag-atake sa media kasama ang kasalukuyang pagpipilit ng gobyernong tanggalin sa Supreme Court si Chief Justice Sereno at ang aking unjust detention ay malinaw na patunay na tayo ngayon ay nakapailalim na sa isang "authoritarian regime" kahit walang pormal na deklarasyon ng Martial Law sa buong bansa.

Duterte's incessant acts of aggression and savagery against the democratic opposition and our independent institutions, including the press, reveal what he really is: a psychopathic dictator and an incorrigible despot. Sinisimot nya ang ating demokrasya. Sinasaid nya ang ating mga karapatan.

Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, in their very authoritative book "How Democracies Die", describe perfectly the behavior of an authoritarian, as someone who: rejects the democratic rules of the game; denies the legitimacy of political opponents; tolerates or encourages violence; and is ready to curtail civil liberties of adversaries and critics--including media.

Duterte, as a present-day demagogue, definitely fits the bill.

What then is the antidote to an autocratic leader? An enlightened and engaged citizenry infused with a consuming zeal for the rule of law, democracy, and human rights. A movement of freedom-loving people who struggle for truth, justice and nation-building, reinforced by a free and unfettered media.

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