Silencing the press is a recipe for dictatorial rule

Duterte is delusional if he thinks the people will not see the situation for what it truly is: a blatant attack on the freedom of the press and a crucial step towards an all-out fascist and dictatorial rule.

The forced shutdown of ABS-CBN’s television broadcast services does not only undermine the rights of media practitioners and journalists in the country, but also puts the Filipino masses at an even more difficult position especially amid the ongoing pandemic. At a time when accurate news and information are a necessity for survival, the Duterte administration decides to silence anyone who dares to air the failure of the administration in handling the pandemic.

All accounts show how Solicitor General Jose Calida strong-armed the NTC to demand the shutdown of ABS-CBN. Meanwhile lawmakers insist that Calida does not have any authority over the matter of ABS-CBN’s franchise. But however which way they try to spin the narrative, it still is nothing more than a sloppy and foolish cover-up. The tyrant in Malacanang has once again deployed his fascist machinery to criminalize dissent.

Using Solicitor General Calida’s vague threats against the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to issue a “cease and desist” order against ABS-CBN, Duterte tries to steer the conversation away from himself and his favorite cronies in the legislative branch. He desperately attempts to hide his true dictatorial nature from the people by letting his dogs bicker at one another.

Following several controversies surrounding abuse of power by men in uniform and illegal detention of workers and youth during the lockdown, Duterte takes it one step further. He stays faithful to one of the undeniable hallmarks of a fascist ruler: keeping critics mum.

Uninterested in what the effects would be for the thousands of families suddenly jobless from the shutdown, and the millions more who now find themselves in the dark as to the current state of the country and the world during the crisis, Duterte prioritizes his own political motivations. He feigns his concern for the masses while ultimately concocting their downfall. He continues to resort to intimidation and lies to get what he wants.

But all crooked roads lead back to Duterte’s tyrannical ambitions.

Three decades ago witnessed the rise and eventual fall of a dictator who used the same tactics as Duterte today. Then, the closure of ABS-CBN was one of the first moves of Marcos’ Martial Law. Duterte must be drowning in desperation to now think that this ploy would work to serve his interests and prolong the life of his already faltering administration. He has been consistently attacking the press including the attempted closure of Rappler, the organized cybersecurity attacks on alternative news media Bulatlat, and the death of 12 journalists and the recorded threats and attacks on 128 others, according to the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility.

He continues to reveal himself to be another dictator. Another fascist tyrant for the people to resist and overthrow.

This scene is not new to the masses and the masses will do what history has proven to be the most effective path towards victory. The revolutionary youth must, now more than ever, vigorously continue the struggle to defend press freedom. The revolutionary youth must act immediately, and in every way possible, to frustrate Duterte’s fascist dictatorship and fight for the people’s democratic rights especially now that Duterte is exploiting the national emergency to lay down his entire fascist machinery in the whole country.

Photo from rappler.com

Read about the national democratic perspective on pressing issues — from the Kabataang Makabayan National Spokesperson.