December 10, 2020
The Duterte administration and its armed forces have once again shown how they can violate press freedom and freedom of expression when they abducted Manila Today editor Lady Ann Salem this morning, December 10. It does not matter that December 10 is the commemoration of International Human Rights Day. The Duterte government and its minions just had to show that respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals means nothing to them.
According to reports, the abduction of Lady Ann Salem was done after the raid of her residence in Mandaluyong City by elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG). Reports coming in also showed she is being held at the CIDG National Capitol Region headquarters in Quezon City. Her family and colleagues have not been able to contact her.
The growing opposition to its government is driving Duterte and his forces mad and abduction, arrest, detention and torture are their methods to silence those who are critical of its policies and actions. And Manila Today editor Lady Ann Salem is their latest victim. It is not accidental that Lady Ann Salem was abducted after the Manila Today and Tudla Productions were red-tagged by officials of the Duterte government.
Lady Ann Salem is currently the communications officer of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT), member of the board of Tudla Productions, former officer of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), and as one of the founding members of Altermidya Network she has worked with alternative media community.
Lady Ann’s abduction comes after the illegal arrest and detention of two other women political prisoners, Reina Mae Nasino and Amanda Echanis.
Reina Mae Nasino, an urban poor community organizer, was arrested in November 2019 and gave birth to Baby River in prison. Her baby was separated from her by the authorities, and lacking mother’s care and nourishment, her baby got sick. Reina’s plea for a furlough so she could take care of her sick child fell on deaf ears. Baby River died without the mother seeing her child. At the wake of Baby River, 47 members of the PNP guarded Reina depriving her of her privacy to grieve and say goodbye to her daughter.
Amanda Echanis and her one-month old baby Randall Emmanuel, were arrested in Baggao, Cagayan last December 2 by elements of the 77th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, PNP and CIDG, and are now detained at the Camp Adduro in Tuguegarao City.
Amanda is a peasant organizer and the daughter of Randall Echanis, consultant in the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) who was brutally murdered by elements believed to be with the military and police forces.
We from Women for Filipino Women and Children, together with International Women’s Alliance-Europe, have launched a campaign demanding the freedom of the women political prisoners including Reina Mae Nasino, Amanda Echanis and her one-month old son, and Lady Ann Salem.
Let us be vigilant of the policies and actions of the Duterte government and show that the Filipino people will not be cowed into silence!
We demand that Lady Ann Salem, Reina Mae Nasino and Amanda Echanis and her baby be set free!
We demand that their abductors be accountable for their kidnapping, illegal arrest and detention!
Uphold and defend the fundamental rights and freedoms of the people! ##
Statement from Women for Filipino Women and Children (WOW)