A campus journalist from the University of the East was reportedly forced to issue a public apology on Sunday over his social media posts that were critical of the Duterte administration.
Joshua Molo, editor in chief of the university’s official student publication UE Dawn, was ordered by officials of Barangay San Fernando Sur in Cabiao, Nueva Ecija to publicly apologize to his high school teachers who took offense at his anti-Duterte posts, according to reports by UE RedWire and the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP).
“Ako po’y humihingi ng tawad… dulot ng aking nagawang pagkakamali gamit ang aking social media,” he said in a taped apology. “Inaamin ko po na ako ay nagkamali at hindi na mauulit ang mga pangyayari.”
According to the CEGP, Molo was threatened with libel charges for allegedly calling out his former teachers who made fun of his posts that were critical of the administration.
Molo was escorted by his mother and local officials to the barangay hall where one of his former journalism teachers had reported him to authorities.
RedWire added that Molo’s friends, who were in contact with him throughout the ordeal, said barangay officials threatened him with criminal charges and arrest if he refused to apologize and wrote any posts critical of the government in the future.
“Preventing someone from expressing his or her opinion on matters such as grievances against the government is an act of oppression,” the UE Dawn said in a statement, noting that citizens are entitled to freedom of speech under the constitution.
The CEGP also urged the government to focus on improving its public information campaign and delivering financial aid to Filipinos “instead of filing nonsensical criminal charges.”
"Let the lapdogs and oppressors of Duterte be reminded that from these attacks, more and more Filipino people, especially from the ranks of campus publications, will continue to fight back and expose his tyrannical rule,” CEGP National President Daryl Angelo Baybado said.
Philippine National Police spokesman Police Brigadier General Bernard Banac meanwhile said they cannot make conclusions unless the local government unit launches an investigation into the incident.
“Criticism is part of freedom of expression and a healthy democracy,” he told GMA News Online.
“But in critical times of public health emergency and state of calamity, adverse opinions that only serve to muddle our focus and distract our attention should rather be ignored or deferred for better days.”
GMA News Online was trying to contact Molo and the UE Administration for their comments as of posting time. —Julia Mari Ornedo/LBG, GMA News