CHR: Red-tagging among threats to press freedom

Red-tagging remains among the most prevalent threats to press freedom that also include violence against journalists and the media in the Philippines, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) reported.

In his keynote speech at the opening of the historic 1st Philippine Media Safety Summit, CHR Chairperson Richard Palpal-latoc said critical journalists are being subjected to red-tagging and surveillance, or are faced with the charges of libel or cyber libel.

“Likewise, the harassment and threats to one’s safety not only affect the journalist himself but also impact the welfare and security of his family and peers,” Palpal-latoc said.

The head of the country’s national human rights institution said the Philippine media landscape continues to be characterized by “evident dangers.”

“Philippine journalism has long been in a vulnerable state and remains to be overlooked despite its role in preserving the core of our democracy,” Palpal-latoc said.

“Being tagged as one of the most dangerous countries to practice journalism is sufficient proof that much has yet to be done across all levels and spheres of dialogue,” he added.

Government agencies and officials have been identified by various human rights groups as among the main perpetrators of red-tagging against journalists and other human rights defenders.

READ: CHR tells world of red-tagging, misuse of counter-terror measures

ALSO SEE: Defining, preventing red-tagging

Philippine Press Institute’s Ariel Sebellino and Joyce Panares’ moderate 1st Media Safety Summit opening ceremony. (Supplied photo)

Threats continue under Marcos Jr.

In her presentation, Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) executive director Melinda de Jesus said there have at least been 135 incidents of attacks and threats against the media from July 1, 2022 when Marcos Jr. assumed the presidency to April 30, 2024.

The incidents include three killings, 75 cases of intimidation, 15 cyber attacks, 14 incidents of assault and harassment, 8 cyber libel cases have been filed against media workers, seven instances of censorship, five arrests and a case of gun shooting, de Jesus said.

Both the People’s Alternative Media Network  and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) meanwhile called for the immediate freedom of jailed Eastern Vista editor Frenchie Mae Cumpio, the youngest journalist in jail in the world. She is 25 years old.

“Acts of aggression and harassment against the media are an affront to the exercise of press freedom,” Palpal-latoc said.

The ongoing summit being held in Quezon City is organized by the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication, Center for Community Journalism and Development, University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication, Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines, Freedom for Media Freedom for All Coalition, MindaNews, NUJP, Peace and Conflict Journalism Network, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, and the Philippine Press Institute.

More than a hundred journalists from all over the Philippines are attending the event.

The country’s first-ever media safety summit ends today, Friday, World Press Freedom Day with a rally at Quezon city’s Boy Scout. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)