MANILA – The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) has strongly condemned the online attacks against Inquirer Mindanao Bureau reporter Julie Alipala.
“We strongly condemn this malicious meme, which was posted and shared multiple times by several Facebook users,” PTFoMS Executive Director Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco said in a statement.
Alipala became the subject of hate posts and death threats on social media after her story "7 Young Tausug Men Killed by Military, Not Abu Sayyaf Bandits” was posted on inquirer.net on Sept. 16, 2018.
The post drew negative comments from netizens with some of them unleashing outright threats to Alipala’s life.
A certain Rhoel Dispo commented: ‘Dpat barilin na yan sa ulo’ (She should be shot in the head) while Bong Medina said: ‘dapat ito ang na aambush’ (she should be the one ambushed).
A netizen who posted Alipala’s article made a comment: “Magkano kaya ang binayad kay Julie Alipala? Pati teroristang Abu Sayyaf pinagtatanggol niya! Certified bayarang kolumista” (How much money was paid for Julie Alipala? She is defending even the terrorist Abu Sayyaf! A certified paid columnist).
The incident prompted Egco to immediately coordinate with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in accordance with the PTFoMS protocols.
Egco said NBI-Cyber Crime Division head Manuel Antonio Eduarte and PNP Anti-Cyber Crime Group Director Chief Supt. Marni Marcos Jr. will lead the investigation and the eventual arrest of the perpetrators behind the post.
“On account of the damage and the consequent threats to her person which clearly arose in connection with her work as a journalist, Ms. Alipala sought the help of the Task Force,” Egco said.
Since Alipala’s case was not the first online harassment against media practitioners, Egco said the PTFoMS has also sought audience with the Philippine representatives of Facebook “to discuss a possible long-term collaboration” to prevent the proliferation of dubious social media accounts.
“The digital age has ushered in a new adversary in the form of online trolls/fake accounts geared toward spreading hate in the online community. This doubles the risk for members of the Fourth Estate whose zeal and passion for their work may be curtailed by fears of actual physical attacks preceded by online threats,” Egco said.
“At this point, we call on all stakeholders to be vigilant and increase public awareness on the global campaign to end online harassment of journalists as the PTFoMS reiterates its full commitment to exhaust all means to fulfill its mandate of protecting the life, liberty, and security of media workers,” he added. (PNA)