The founding members of “Lodi” or Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity give their own version of the fist-pump—as though to counter President Duterte’s signature pose—during the group’s launch in Quezon City on Friday.—NIÑO JESUS ORBETA
Citing threats to freedom of expression and the “disinformation campaigns” waged by forces funded by taxpayers money, a group of artists, writers, journalists and media workers has served notice to the Duterte administration of their plan to be a “Lodi.”
The term means “idol” in today’s youth lingo, but it also stands for “Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity” — an arts and media alliance that is expected to scrutinize or fact-check pronouncements from Mr. Duterte, his aides or his supporters who command an online following.
“Duterte himself has led the assault, aided by a well-oiled machinery of disinformation peddlers and digital storm troopers,” the group said in a statement marking their launch in Quezon City on Friday.
Among its founding members are award-winning film director Joel Lamangan, fellow filmmaker Sari Dalena, journalist Inday Espina Varona, blogger Tonyo Cruz, screenwriter Bonifacio Ilagan and theater actress Mae Paner, aka “Juana Change.”
Lodi noted that the President’s attacks on media companies whom he had accused of unfair reportage, for example, have been “amplified by a well-funded social media army, in part underwritten by taxpayers.”
“It is not enough to call for a halt to government-led disinformation campaigns,” the group said. “We will expose these deceptions.”
In a press conference, Lamangan said the “lies” being spread under the current administration were proving to be even worse than what the Marcos dictatorship used to keep itself in power, largely because of the internet and social media.
“Lies now are more widespread,” said Lamangan, an activist who was accused of subversion, jailed for four years, and sentenced to die by firing squad under martial law. “So we must begin to be a lodi, or an idol, of the youth in standing up for the truth.”
“Now is the time to fight all forms of suppression and bravely heed the words of the late director Lino Brocka that ‘the artist is also a public person,’” Lamangan said.
Paner said the times call for artists “to engage those who are silent” on the issues hounding the Duterte administration, particularly the human rights violations and the disregard for due process in the antidrug campaign.
“My art is my protection, my right, and my duty,” said Paner, who has mounted a play titled “Tao Po” based on the stories of drug war victims. “The more I am out there, the more I do what I feel is my right, the more protected I feel.”
Paner was earlier threatened with criminal charges from the Armed Forces of the Philippines after she staged a protest wearing a military uniform in July, in time for Mr. Duterte’s second State of the Nation Address (Sona).
Cruz, who serves as the group’s spokesperson, added: “The people, artists and writers should consider if the President is in favor of our freedom to think, if he is in favor of (giving) freedom to film directors, writers and bloggers.”
Varona said the new alliance does not intend to silence those who hold views different from theirs, but “to combat the lies and any attempt to intimidate the people.”
The group is expected to join the rally marking International Human Rights Day at Bonifacio Shrine in Manila on Sunday.