Predator

Rodrigo DUTERTE

28 March 1945



President of the Republic of the Philippines since 30 June 2016 

Predator since taking office



Philippines, 138th/180 countries in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index



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Dear [Name of Candidate],

I am writing to ask you what you plan to do to defend the First Amendment, freedom of the press, and the fundamental rights of journalists to practice their profession freely in what has become an increasingly hostile environment for information and news providers.

The United States, which enshrines press freedom in the First Amendment of its Constitution, is currently witnessing a drastic decline in media freedom. On June 28, one of the most horrific attacks on press freedom in the United States occurred when five employees, including four reporters, were killed at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland. According to the US Press Freedom Tracker, which comprehensively documents press freedom violations in the US committed by national, state, and local authorities as well as private individuals, 33 journalists were arrested, 43 were physically attacked, and 15 seizures of journalists’ equipment occurred in 2017. In one of these incidents, Rep. Greg Gianforte physically assaulted a Guardian journalist the night before his state’s election. While covering the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, journalists were impersonated on social media, impeding their ability to accurately investigate the facts and disseminate information which could be vital to preventing a similar tragedy. This hostility towards the press not only risks compromising the American public’s right to be informed through journalists’ reporting, but can also degrade the public’s trust in the media itself.

This is not a partisan issue; it is a fundamental right that impacts every American no matter their politics. Journalism is at the crux of our democracy, and communities everywhere rely on journalists to provide them with information that is essential to their daily decision-making processes. It was local investigative journalist Curt Guyette who broke the story about Flint, Michigan’s lack of access to clean water in 2014, prompting years of class-action lawsuits, protests, and subsequent federal assistance to the city in order to try to resolve the crisis. Reporters Megan Twohey, Jodi Kantor, and Ronan Farrow publicized sexual assault allegations against influential Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein in 2017, leading to the ubiquitous and powerful #MeToo movement which brought decades of sexual abuse and harassment across multiple industries to light.

Yet freedom of the press in the US is currently in dire need of congressional support. It is our civic duty as one of the world’s leading democracies to uphold principles that support and protect the rights of journalists so that they may hold those in power accountable and ensure an informed and engaged community.

If you are elected, what do you plan to do to protect this utterly essential component of our democracy? What are your plans to protect the public’s right to be informed through a free and independent press?

Sincerely,
[Your name]
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Hello, my name is _______ and I am from [city, state].

I’m calling to let you know that [candidate/representative]'s stance on freedom of the press is extremely important in my decision to vote. I feel that this is not a partisan issue, but a fundamental right that impacts every American no matter their politics.

I have become increasingly concerned with the growing climate of hostility for journalists in this country, and I would like for [candidate/representative] to publicly address what they will do to defend press freedom if [he/she] is elected.

Thank you.
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Freedom of the press is suffering in the US. @[yourcandidate] if you are elected to serve in Congress, what are your plans to protect journalists and our right to be informed? Will you #DefendPressFreedom?

Democracy depends on a free and independent press and its ability to hold those in power accountable. [@yourcandidate] will you take measures to protect journalism and the First Amendment? Will you #DefendPressFreedom?

In June, four reporters were murdered in an appalling targeted attack on the Capital Gazette and freedom of the press. [@yourcandidate] what will you do to address the growing threat to journalists in this country? #DefendPressFreedom

Press freedom is in steady decline in the US. I want my representative to defend the work of journalists as well as my right to be informed. [@yourcandidate] if you are elected what will you do to protect a free press? #DefendPressFreedom
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Journalists play a crucial role in our democracy by keeping us informed and holding those in power accountable. And yet in the US, attacks on journalists are becoming more common, undermining the media's role and creating opportunities for government overreach, the erosion of press freedom, and impeding our right to be informed. I’m contacting my candidates and encouraging them to defend press freedom during their midterm election campaign. Join me at DefendPressFreedom.com

A free press is essential to our democracy. Communities everywhere rely on journalists to report on our government’s actions and hold public figures accountable, providing us with the information we need to make decisions every day. And yet physical, verbal, and online attacks against journalists in the US are increasing at an astonishing rate. I’m contacting my candidates and encouraging them to defend press freedom during their midterm election campaign. You should too. Read more at DefendPressFreedom.com

Press freedom is declining in the US at an alarming rate. Physical, verbal, and online attacks against journalists have increased drastically in the last two years. As the US midterm elections approach, we must remind our congressional candidates that journalists play a crucial role in our democracy by keeping us informed and holding those in power accountable. I’m contacting my representatives and encouraging them to defend press freedom during their midterm election campaign. Join in and help me spread the word at DefendPressFreedom.com

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    PREDATORY METHOD: “Total war” against independent media





    After being elected mayor of the southern city of Davao in 1988, Rodrigo Duterte used the pretext of fighting crime to develop a style of governing that showed little respect for the rule of law. The local media quickly became collateral victims of his brutal methods, which tolerate no criticism or even nuanced coverage of his policies.

     

    His openly populist rhetoric, which included having himself nicknamed the “punisher,” helped get him elected president in 2016. His presidency has exposed the weakness of the country’s democratic system. The executive has enormous power centred on the president. Judges who don’t toe the line are pushed aside. Congress tamely endorses all the president’s decisions. Backed by most of the private sector, Duterte easily imposes his line on media outlets owned by businessmen that support him. Independent media outlets have assumed the role of opposition, with all the risks that this entails.

     

    Thanks to collusion at all levels within the state apparatus, Duterte has an arsenal that he can use to wage “total war” against journalists, an arsenal that includes spurious charges of defamation, tax evasion or violation of capital legislation; rescinding broadcast licences; getting accomplices to buy up media outlets and bring their journalists into line; and using an army of trolls to subject journalists to online harassment.



    FAVOURITE TARGETS: The last sources of resistance



    A handful of media outlets have tried to cover Duterte’s authoritarian excesses. In March 2017, the irascible president warned them: “I'm not threatening them but someday their karma will catch up with them.” They included the country’s leading newspaper, the Philippine Daily Inquirer. It was bought up a year later and its journalists were brought to heel. The next target was the country’s leading radio and TV network, ABS-CBN. In July 2020, the ever-compliant congress sealed its fate by refusing to renew its franchise. He is now targeting the last bastion of press freedom – the Rappler news website and its CEO, Maria Ressa. Hounded by lawsuits and prosecution brought by Duterte’s allies, she is facing the possibility of sentences totalling around 100 years in prison.


    OFFICIAL DISCOURSE: Insults


    “Just because you’re a journalist you are not exempted from assassination, if you’re a son of a bitch” (at his inauguration on 30 June 2016).