The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) decried the arrest of Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa over a cyber libel case, calling it a "shameless act of persecution by a bully government."
The group questioned the charge against Ressa, which it said, was not yet in the law when the alleged offense was committed.
On Wednesday, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested Ressa for cyber libel over an article published on the news website in 2012. The offense is bailable.
The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, officially recorded as Republic Act No. 10175, became a law on September 12, 2012, or several months after the alleged libelous Rappler article was published.
"It is clear that the Department of Justice perverted the law by charging Maria for an offense allegedly committed before it actually became an offense under the law," NUJP said in a statement.
"It is clear this is part of the administration's obsession to shut Rappler down and intimidate the rest of the independent Philippine media into toeing the lines," it added.
NUJP called on the public to stand with Ressa and defend the free press.
"We call on all freedom-loving Filipinos to stand with the independent Philipline press in defense of the rights not only of media but of the people. For in suppressing the press it is the people's right to know that is trampled on," it said. —LDF, GMA News