The Consortium on Democracy and Disinformation issues statement on the ‘Oust-Duterte matrix’

Below is the official statement of the Consortium on Democracy and Disinformation on the ‘Oust-Duterte matrix’.

 

The full text of the statement is below:

The members and partners of the Consortium on Democracy and Disinformation denounce the latest round of attacks on journalists including Maria Ressa, Ellen Tordesillas and Inday Espina Varona and on news organizations including VERA Files, Rappler, and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. The orchestrated nature of these attacks was betrayed by their coordinated launch starting on Easter Monday by the President’s propagandist and on various government-controlled or –influenced channels.

The accusation is unwarranted: None of the individuals and organizations are involved in any ouster plot against the President. (The Armed Forces of the Philippines has already belied any such ouster plot; certainly, none that involves the media.)

But the type of accusation is clear and clearly dangerous: It is meant to target legitimate journalists, and thus to undermine journalism itself. The so-called “matrix” is a perversion of “intelligence” work, pretending to serve national security by faking intelligence analysis against made-up targets. Worse, it forms part of a pattern of harassment and intimidation against the legitimate media that started in 2016; already a new weapon against journalists, in the form of supposed concerns about the possible abuses of foreign funding, is being readied.

We denounce these attacks in the strongest terms. We deplore the use of the office of the presidency to lie to the citizenry; we censure the phony narrative of treachery being supposedly leveled against the person of the president, that may be used at any time to justify draconian measures; we condemn all attempts to undermine the work of journalism.

The ridiculous “matrix” accusation saw print as the Consortium was holding its Second Conference on Democracy and Disinformation. This newest big lie was immediately self-evident to the assembly of media, academic, and civil society partners discussing the impact of disinformation on democratic decay. The attacks on Tordesillas, Varona, VERA Files, Rappler, and PCIJ by an administration hostile to the professional functions of truthful reportage in a democracy intends to straitjacket democracy: It means to pull down the fact-checkers of Facebook. It broadens the scale of the administration’s war against press freedom and freedom of expression. It replays old authoritarian techniques for the suppression of truth-telling.

That the lie is so transparent and the machinations so inept insults all Filipinos. The barefaced nature of the falsehood is obvious. But what is even more exposed than all that is the increasing momentum by which impunity is wielded by a government at war with its own people.

In calling out the administration for yet another deliberate release of disinformation, the members and partners of the Consortium on Democracy and Disinformation appeal to both the guarantees of freedom of expression and press freedom found in the Constitution, and to the natural desire of free peoples everywhere to defend their freedom, beginning with their freedom to tell the truth.

As the former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales reminded our conference: “Our democracy is sick and truth-telling is the only antidote.’

#FightDisinfo #DefendPressFreedom #DefendDemocracy

01 May 2019

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