CHR defends rights of online journalist threatened with case for ‘aiding terrorists’

Published February 8, 2021, 1:07 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

“Free speech and expression should always be upheld!”

This was the unequivocal stand of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on the “threats” received by an online journalist over her report on the alleged torture of Aeta tribesmen against whom charges of violations of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) have been filed before the Angeles City regional trial court (RTC).

Commission on Human Rights (Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)

CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia, a lawyer, said the CHR “condemns any attempt to use the laws to curtail human rights.”

Subject of the CHR’s statement was the case of online journalist Tetch Torres Tupaz who received “threats” from Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Southern Luzon Command chief Lt. Gen. Antonio G. Parlade Jr.

Tupaz’s article stated that two Aetas claimed they have been tortured by the military and detained over trumped up charges following their arrest in Zambales.

  Parlade’s comment on the article: “Congratulations for a sloppy work Tetch Torres-Tupaz of You did not even bother to check the side of the AFP and gov’t if what you are reporting is true or FAKE. Propagandista. No such thing happened. That unit is not even there but in Davao.”

 The military official also hinted of possible filing of charges when he responded to a Facebook comment and replied: “Aiding the terrorists by spreading lies? PUEDE (possible).”

In its statement, the CHR said:

“CHR reminds the Philippine Government of its human rights commitments and inherent obligations. We continue to extend partnership and offer guidance to the government towards ensuring that human rights concerns in communities are addressed. More than reiteration of promises, the government must put words into action.”

At the same time, the CHR, through De Guia, reminded the government of the concerns made by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2020, which revealed that there is a “pattern of intimidation” of independent news sources.