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2020 saw most brazen abuses vs journalism—NUJP

The year 2020 had been particularly bad for journalism in the Philippines that saw more media workers killed, arrested, jailed and lose their jobs, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) reported.

The media group said four journalists have been killed in the Philippines, including Cornelio Pepino in Negros Oriental last May 5; Jobert Bercasio in Sorsogon last September 14; Virgilio Maganes in Pangasinan last November 10; and Ronnie Villamor in Masbate last November 14.

Villamor was shot dead by the Philippine Army that claimed the journalist was a communist supporter and killed in an encounter.

Maganes, who survived the first slay attempt against him in 2016 by playing dead, was killed inside their family compound in Villasis, Pangasinan.

“Their deaths have brought the total of media killings under Duterte to 19, and to 191 since 1986,” the NUJP said.

The International Federation of Journalists lists the Philippines as among the most dangerous countries for journalists in the world in 2020.

Their killing of four Filipino media workers figured in the list of 60 journalists killed worldwide in 2020 by the Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).

The IFJ list made the Philippines the fourth most dangerous country for journalists in the world in 2020, along with Syria and after India (8 killed), Pakistan (7), Afghanistan (7).

The list made the country the most dangerous in Southeast Asia as well.

Twenty-seven journalists were killed in the Asia-Pacific, the most dangerous region for journalists in 2020.

Arrests and detention

Seven journalists have also been arrested, at least two of whom remain detention, both women and executives of alternative media outfits.

Those arrested in 2020 include Glenn Jester Hitgano in Jan. 21 (arbitrarily arrested during coverage); Frenchiemae Cumpio in Feb. 7 (illegal firearms possession); Ramil Traya Bagues in Aug. 18 (cyber-libel); Rommel Ibasco Fenix in Sept. 15 (libel and violation of Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009);  Virgilio Avila Jr.  in Nov. 10 (cyber-libel); Mia Concordia in Nov. 10 (cyber-libel); and Lady Ann Salem in Dec. 10 (illegal possession of firearms and explosives).

Cumpio, executive director of alternative media outfit Eastern Vista, was sleeping at a church group’s dormitory when arrested in the dead of night.

Her case was among those cited by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights report in June last year as a clear case of human rights violation.

Partial Committee to Protect Journalists list of jailed media workers where Frenchie Mae Cumpio appears.

Cumpio’s imprisonment also made it to the list of 274 journalists jailed in 2020 globally by the New-York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

The CPJ said the number was “a new high…as governments cracked down on coverage of COVID-19 or tried to suppress reporting on political unrest.”

Salem, editor of alternative news outfit Manila Today was arrested, of all days, on International Human Rights Day.

The NUJP has reported Salem’s case to the CPJ but the latter’s list has yet to include her name.

Salem is currently is in a Covid-19 isolation protocol at the Mandaluyong City Jail after her transfer from the Philippine National Police’s jail facility at Camp Crame.

CPJ infographic on countries where journalists have been jailed in 2020.

The rest of the arrested Filipino journalists were able to post bail, except Bagues whose current status the NUJP is trying to find out.

Red-tagging and charges

The NUJP said that the Philippine government had been especially vicious against the press the past year as compared to the first three years of the Rodrigo Duterte government.

“[B]ad as the first three years were, 2020 trumped them all as Duterte and his minions ramped up their attacks on the free press even as the COVID-19 pandemic began to make its deadly grip felt,” the NUJP said.

The media group said the Duterte government displayed a “most brazen abuse of state power” by red-tagging journalists and media institutions.

Aside from Cumpio and Salem, various government agencies and officials red-tagged alternative media outfits Kodao Productions, Bulatlat, Pinoy Weekly, Northern Dispatch, Panay Today, Manila Today, Radyo Natin-Guimba as well as dominant media organizations ABS-CBN, Rappler, CNN-Philippines, among many others.

Veteran journalist and NUJP director and former chairperson Nestor Burgos Jr. had also been red-tagged.

Editors and staff of Baguio City-based Northern Dispatch faced various police-instigated charges in court throughout last year.

Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and former researcher-writer Rey Santos Jr. were judged guilty in June last year of libelling a businessman with links to Duterte.

Maria Ressa in a press briefing after her conviction of libel last June 15. (Photo by R. Villanueva)

ABS-CBN closure

The NUJP said the pandemic gave Duterte convenient cover to make good his repeated threats to shut down ABS-CBN, the Philippines’ biggest media conglomerate.

As threats of arrest forced the growing crowds that had rallied to the beleaguered network since late last year to stand down, the House of Representatives allowed ABS-CBN’s franchise to lapse, forcing the network to stop broadcasting on May 5.

On May 5, the network stopped broadcasting and, two months later, in June, the majority of the House committee on congressional franchises sealed its fate, voting to deny it a new franchise to operate.

Duterte thus become the second president after Ferdinand Marcos to force ABS-CBN off the air, the NUJP said.

The closure left thousands jobless and the loss of ABS-CBN regional stations also left many areas without their major source of news and entertainment.

The full extent of this would become clear during typhoons Rolly and Ulysses that caught millions of victims previously dependent on ABS-CBN news and alerts unaware of the hazards of the disasters, the NUJP said.

We strongly condemn the NTF-ELCAC’s callous, dangerous, and evidence-less red-tagging of the Altermidya network,” media organizations including the Asian Center for Journalism at the Ateneo de Manila University, the University of the Philippines Department of Journalism, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, the Consortium on Democracy and Disinformation, the Foundation for Media Alternatives, MindaNews, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, and the Philippine Press Institute as well as media outfits Rappler and VERA Files said.

Bright spots

All was not gloomy in 2020, however, as there had been bright spots in the local media community’s defense of press freedom, the NUJP said.

“Not least of this was the successful push to have UNESCO revert the status of the Ampatuan massacre to ‘unresolved’ after it was pointed out that the legal process is not finished and 76 suspects are still at large and will need to be tried should they be arrested, the media group said.

The NUJP also cited other notable victories such as the case of GMA workers who sued the network over unfair labor practices

In February, the Court of Appeals decided to reinstate, with no loss of seniority and with full back wages, 51 employees who had been illegally terminated while the Supreme Court in September ruled to reinstate 30 cameramen and assistant cameramen illegally dismissed by GMA in 2013.

The NUJP also said that despite “continuing efforts of the enemies of truth to spread disinformation, the media community has, by and large, successfully fended them off, including the paid influencers and trolls of government.”

“As we thankfully bid goodbye to 2020, we are also aware of what could be even greater challenges and threats to freedom of the press and of expression in 2021 and beyond…And so we look forward to 2021 resolved to continue defending and pushing the boundaries for press freedom in our land,” the NUJP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NUJP’s ABS-CBN campaign, Karapatan’s ‘resilient website’ win human rights awards

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and Karapatan won the two top prizes of the 10th Human Rights Pinduteros Choice Awards for their online campaign and presence in the past year.

The NUJP’s Black Friday Online Protest #NoToABSCBNShutdown garnered nearly 39% of votes among 10 finalists in an online poll held by HR Online PH.

The media group held several online rallies after government-imposed coronavirus lockdowns prevented its burgeoning Black Friday protests on the closure of ABS-CBN from being regularly held since the month of March.

Government attacks of the country’s biggest broadcasting corporation and eventual denial of petitions for a new franchise to operate had been the biggest press freedom and labor rights issue in the country this year.

The NUJP started and led national and global Black Friday protests that gathered participation and support from many sectors, organizations and individuals.

NUJP secretary general Dabet Castaneda-Panelo and this reporter, NUJP deputy secretary general, received the glass trophy at the awarding ceremony in Quezon City Monday, November 30.

Castaneda said in an emotional acceptance speech that the recognition is personal as she is an ABS-CBN employee who witnessed how the majority of the 11 thousand employees of the network lost their jobs.

“But the struggle for ABS-CBN is bigger than its 11 thousand employees and the network itself. This is for the people’s right of choice and right to information,” she said.

NUJP secretary general Dabet Castaneda-Panelo with the Pinduteros’ Choice trophy. (Photo by R. Villanueva)

Karapatan for its part dedicated its #HumanRights Pinduteros Choice for Website award to human rights defenders killed under the Rodrigo Duterte government.

“This award is dedicated to Ryan Hubilla, Sara Alvarez and all the human rights defenders killed under this government,” Karapatan’s Dindo Roxas said.

Karapatan gathered a whopping 74% of the total votes cast among 10 finalists in the online poll.

“Karapatan’s website had been taken down by hackers, is under constant attack, but it just simply refuses to be denied,” HR Online PH said.

Karapatan’s Dindo Roxas dedicated the honor to fallen human rights defenders.
(Photo by R. Villanueva)

The organizers said nominees were chosen from most-clicked items per category posted on the HRonlinePH.com site while the winners are those with the most number of hits based on WordPress.com statistics from November 2019 to November 2020.

The 10th Human Rights Pinduteros Choice Awards was themed #ShoutOut sa mga hindi natakot magpahayag ng makatotohanan, makabuluhan at may pagmamalasakit sa kapwa. (#ShoutOut to those who did not fear voicing out truth, meaningfulness and concern for others.)

The awarding ceremony was part of the Freedom Of Expression Conference (Freexp.Con4) organized by several human rights organizations and advocates such as the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity (iDEFEND), Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, Alyansa Tigil Mina, among others.

It was supported by the British Embassy Manila.

This year’s winners include:

  • Off-the-Shelf Category: SOLIDAGRO – Anto sa yugto ng pandemiko,  Collected by Rene Boy Abiva
  • Video Category: iDEFEND – Lumabas Tayo! Lumaban Tayo!
  • Featured Site Category: Ateneo de Manila University Human Rights Center – Online Legal Counseling
  • Event Category: PAHRA and iDEFEND – “Human rights groups, grassroots activists and civil society organizations launch protest marking the anniversary of the declaration of martial law”
  • Network Post Category: Teachers Dignity Coalition – [Statement] “CHR Spokesperson, Atty Jacqueline Ann de Guia, on the arrest of Cebu film writer Maria Victoria Beltran”
  • Blogsite Category: Norman Novio – nanovio.blogspot.com (Minding Mindoro and Beyond)
  • Right Up Category: Prof. Jose Mario De Vega – “The coronavirus is the monstrous product of the present nefarious global system”

A special award was given to the Mulat Short Film Project of Far Eastern University’s Department of Communication that encourages the production of films on human rights.

HR Online PH said its Human Rights Pinduteros Choice Awards started a decade ago to encourage organizations and advocates to engage others on human rights through the social media.

“This is our contribution for the defense and promotion of a human rights culture among Filipinos,” the group said.

The awarding ceremony serves as build up event for the annual International Human Rights Day on December 10. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Petisyon kontra-Terror Law inihain ng mga mamamahayag at artista

Inihain ang ika-13 petisyon kontra sa kontrobersyal na Anti-Terrorism Law kaninang umaga, Hulyo 23 sa Korte Suprema. Pinangunahan ito ng National Union of Journalists of the Philippines at Concerned Artists of the Philippines.

Hinihiling nila na ideklarang labag sa batas ang Anti-Terror Law dahil sa mga probisyon nito na napakalawak na depinisyon patungkol sa terorismo. Gayundin magiging sandata din ito para sikilin ang sinumang nais magpahayag ng pagtutol lalo na sa gobyerno. (Bidyo ni Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao)

‘Para kanino ang pagpapasara sa ABS-CBN?’

Ito ang tanong ng mga lumahok sa isinagawang motorcade at rali noong Lunes, Hulyo 6, ng mga nananawagan sa bagong prangkisa ng ABS-CBN.

Sa huling araw ng pagdinig ng Kongreso sa mga petisyon para sa pagpapatuloy na operasyon ng kumpanya, nagpunta ang mga empleyado at kanilang mga taga-suporta sa Kamara de Representante upang manawagan na huwag tuluyang isara ito.

Sa pangunguna ng National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, nagdaos ng programa sa kahabaan ng Batasan Avenue ang Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Makabayan Bloc, SENTRO, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Photojournalism Center of the Philippines, Free the Artist Movement, National Association of Broadcast Unions, at mga unyon ng manggagawa ng ABS-CBN, IBC-13 at GMA-7.

Lawyers vs lawyer: Calida’s attack against reporter-lawyer Navallo earns objections

The country’s top public lawyer earned the objection of his fellow lawyers after publicly castigating another lawyer while filing a petition questioning how media giant ABS-CBN had been implementing its franchises at the Supreme Court last Monday, February 10.

While being asked by ABS-CBN reporter and lawyer Mike Navallo for an interview, Solicitor General Jose Calida confronted him for allegedly “always criticizing” him in the news.

The lawyers’ group National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) said Calida wore a stoic expression when he reprimanded the reporter but used an arrogant tone as “he condescendingly challenged the young but unperturbed Navallo to practice law and face him in court.”

Navallo calmly replied to Calida that he was “only doing his job.”

“Calida’s actions – without doubt condoned if not encouraged and goaded by President [Rodrigo] Duterte’s persistent threats against the media outfit – reveal an attempt at censorship and prior restraint, masked as a perfectly legal action to ‘put an end… to highly abusive practices,’” the NUPL said.

The solicitor general is the official chief legal counsel to President Duterte—himself a lawyer—and the entire executive branch of government.

The NUPL added that Calida’s “feudal treatment” of a fellow lawyer based on his self-professed superiority does not speak well neither of the office he represents nor of the profession.

The human rights lawyers group added that “Calida’s showcase of power exposes this government’s utter disrespect of the people’s right to a free and independent press, and its unqualified intolerance to dissent, disapproval of any diversion from the official line, and aversion to critical yet constructive views, opinions and ideas.”

“It fits right into the mold of presidential tantrums in tandem with legislative collusion. We pray that the judiciary does not become a party to this outrageous lawfare,” NUPL said.

“History will judge all these disingenuous legal assaults against freedoms and liberties the way they deserve. In time, everyone will be given his due,” the group warned.

Former Supreme Court spokesperson Atty. Theodore Te also came to the defense of the reporter, saying Navallo is a good lawyer.

“[Navallo] is a better lawyer than he is a reporter and he is one of the best reporters I know,” Te wrote on his twitter account.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) earlier condemned Calida’s actions, saying he “clearly overstepped the bounds of his office when he turned personal against Navallo” who was on coverage.

The NUJP said Calida was being boorish, “a classic example of a government factotum who mistakes his position of authority as a license to throw his weight around.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Quo warranto petition attacks press freedom–NUJP

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemned the government’s filing of a petition seeking to nullify the franchise of ABS-CBN before the Supreme Court on Monday morning, February 10.

In a statement hours after Solicitor General Jose Calida filed the quo warranto petition at the Supreme Court, the NUJP said the move proves the Rodrigo Duterte government is hell-bent on using all its powers to shut down the broadcast network.

The NUJP said the administration’s move also risks the trampling on Congress’ authority to legislate franchises.

ABS-CBN itself broke the story on Calida’s filing, reporting the petition also targets ABS-CBN Convergence Inc., a subsidiary of one of the country’s top two networks.

Reports said that the petition accuses the respondent companies’ “unlawfully exercising their legislative franchises under Republic Acts 7966 and 8332.”

 “We want to put an end to what we discovered to be highly abusive practices of ABS-CBN benefitting a greedy few at the expense of millions of its loyal subscribers. These practices have gone unnoticed or were disregarded for years,” Calida said.

The NUJP, however, said Calida’s petition complies with President’s desire to block the companies’ franchise renewal now pending in Congress.

Duterte himself personally and repeatedly vowed to block ABS-CBN’s franchise.

“ABS-CBN, you’re a mouthpiece of… Your franchise will expire next year. If you are expecting it to be renewed, I’m sorry. I will see to it that you’re out,” Duterte said in a mix of Filipino and English last December 3.

Duterte accused ABS-CBN of not airing his paid advertisements in the last presidential campaigns that he won.

“We must not allow the vindictiveness of one man, no matter how powerful, to run roughshod over the Constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms of the press and of expression, and the people’s right to know,” the NUJP said.

The media group challenged Congress and the Supreme Court to be independent and refuse to be “at the beck and call of their co-equal Executive branch.

The group also called on Filipino journalists to close ranks around their beleaguered ABS-CBN colleagues and the Filipino people to resist what it calls an attack to democracy.

“We call on all Filipinos who cherish democracy to stand up and defend press freedom because this freedom belongs to you,” NUJP said.

“This is not just about ABS-CBN. This is not just about Philippine media. This is all about whether anyone can or should deprive you, the Filipino people, of your right to know,” the group added.

NUJP is organizing another protest action at the Boy Scout’s Monument in Quezon City at five o’clock this afternoon as a reaction to the filing of the petition.

It had organized four successive Friday night protests and petition signing activities at the monument and around the ABS-CBN compound in Quezon City while its chapters conducted similar activities nationwide.

It also launched an online petition for the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise that has so far gathered more than 170 signatures.

NUJP is joined by other media and rights organizations such as the Altermidya Network, the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines, the ABS-CBN Rank and File Employees Union, Defend Jobs Philippines, Kilusang Mayo Uno, and others. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Photojournalists appeal ban at SEAG opening

Photojournalists are disallowed from covering the opening ceremony of the 30th Southeast Asian Games at the Philippine Arena tonight, the Photojournalists Center of the Philippines (PCP) said.

In a statement late Friday night, the PCP said they are saddened by the decision and asked Philippine South East Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) chairperson Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to reconsider.

“While we recognize the logistical challenge of having hundreds of photographers covering the event, we appeal to the PHISGOC to reconsider this decision by consulting with representatives of accredited photographers and arriving at an orderly way of ‘pooling’ from accredited members of the local and foreign media, which has always been adopted in similar events like this,” the PCP said.

The 30th edition of the South East Asian Games (SEAG), hosted by the Philippines for the fourth time, formally kicks off tonight at the country’s biggest indoor arena.

In appealing their sudden exclusion, the PCP said photojournalists from all nations have always regarded covering an important event such as this biennial sports meet as part of their job “as recorders of history.”

“All past editions of [this] multinational event in all the host countries in its history, including our own, have always considered the important role of photojournalists in these events,” the group said.

The PCP explained that photojournalists have followed stringent rules to get themselves accredited ahead of time to cover the games.

The group also pointed that the Filipino people are spending for hosting the games and it is their right and duty to record the events.

NUJP joins PCP’s appeal

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) joined their colleagues in calling for the scrapping of the reported plans to disallow photojournalists at the opening ceremonies.

“If the [PHISGOC] is afraid it might be the victim of ‘fake news,’ the best defense is to show the truth, the whole truth, in all its warts and glory, not withdraw behind a veil. And who, if not our photojournalists, can do that without fear or favor?” the NUJP said in a statement.

The group pointed out that restricting what people see to official photos and other efforts to control the flow of information can only bolster suspicions that there are things they need to conceal.

“This would be the greatest betrayal to the spirit of the Games and to the athletes as they aim for glory,” the NUJP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NUJP Europe commemorates Ampatuan Massacre’s 10th anniversary

By Macel Ingles

ROME, Italy—Members of the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP)-Europe Chapter joined the Roman Catholic community in Rome to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Ampatuan massacre where 58 people were killed, 32 of whom were media workers.

In a commemoration Mass officiated Fr. Ricky Gente, chaplain priest of the Sentro Filipino Chaplaincy at the Basilica de Sta. Prudenziana in Rome, 17 November, he reminded the parishioners of the need to keep the memory of the slain media workers and the rest of the 58 victims alive and called for support to the families of the victims in their quest for justice.

In a statement read at the Mass, NUJP Europe called the slow Ampatuan trial an indictment of the culture of impunity in the Philippines.

During the Mass, a minute of silence and a candle-lighting ceremony were held.

NUJP-Europe members light candles for the victims of the Ampatuan massacre. (Photo by macel Ingles)

Edu del Carmen, chairperson of the Rome-based Filipino organization Umangat Migrante also read a solidarity message.

“Mahigpit kaming nakikiisa sa inyong isasagawang pag-alala sa mga biktima at kasama kaming nanawagan para sa kagyat na katarungan para sa mga biktima,” del Carmen said.

The Ampatuan massacre of November 23, 2009 is regarded as the worst incident of electoral violence in Philippine history and the world’s single biggest attack on journalists.

The Philippine Supreme Court recently granted the 30-day extension on the deadline for the ruling on the cases against Datu Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan Jr. and close to 200 others charged for the mass killing.

NUJP-Europe Chapter members who attended the event are journalists from Germany, Spain, Norway, United Kingdom (UK), and Italy. 

The chapter was formed in 2015 by Filipino journalists from Germany, Ireland, Norway, UK, Belgium, Spain, Sweden and France. #

Broadcaster shot dead in Dumaguete

Another broadcaster was shot dead in Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental early Thursday morning, Nov. 7, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) reported.

Dindo Generoso was driving his car when he was shot dead by a lone gunman along Hibbard Avenue in Barangay Piapi around 7:30 a.m., the NUJP said citing a spot police report.

“Colleagues said he was on his way to host his program on radio station dyEM 96.7 Bai Radio,” the NUJP Visayas safety office said in its report.

The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFOMS) said Generoso sustained eight gunshot wounds at different parts of his body that caused instant death.

PTFOMS added there may be more than one killer as “still unidentified perpetrators riding-in-tandem on a black motorcycle” were reportedly seen.

“This dastardly deed will not go unpunished. Whoever is behind this senseless murder will be brought to justice,” PTFOMS executive director Joel Sy Egco said in a statement.

Generoso was the second broadcaster murdered in Dumaguete City since Edmund Sestoso, who died on May 1, 2018, a day after he was shot on his way home from hosting his radio program.

The identity of Generoso’s killer and the motive for his murder was not yet clear, the NUJP said.

“If the murder is work-related, Generoso would be the 14th journalist to be murdered under the Duterte administration and the 187th since 1986,” the group added.

PTFOMS said Generoso was an anchor for development programs of the local government, including a controversial reclamation project that was halted by the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) last week.

Generoso’s murder came 10 days after the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) released its 2019 report last October 29 revealing that the Philippines has the highest number of unsolved journalist murders in the world.

The CPJ’s 2019 Global Impunity Index, which “spotlights countries where journalists are slain and their killers go free,” also placed the country, the only one from Southeast Asia on its list, at fifth place while noting that it “has been among the worst five countries nearly every year since the index was first published in 2008.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NUJP warns Badoy: You are accountable should red-baited journalists be harmed

Communications undersecretary Lorraine Marie Badoy is accountable should harm befall journalists she slandered as terrorists, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) warned.

Reacting to her accusations it is fronting and associated with alleged terrorist organizations, the NUJP said Badoy clearly painted the NUJP as enemies of the state.

“This is essentially an open call for state forces to threaten, harass, arrest, detain and kill journalists for doing their job,” the NUJP said.

In an interview with the television program The Chiefs last November 4 News5, Badoy said the NUJP is part of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New People’s Army (NPA) and are “unequivocally” fronting for terrorist organizations.

The NUJP said Badoy’s latest accusation is part of an intensifying campaign to paint the group and other independent media organizations and journalists as “fronts” of the armed communist movement that started in December last year.

“Clearly, the intent of this red-tagging spree and all other assaults on press freedom is to intimidate the independent media into abandoning their critical stance as watchdogs and become mouthpieces of government,” the NUJP said.

Such accusations cause harm to targeted journalists however, the group said, citing the recent arrest and detention of community journalist Anne Krueger during the series of raids in Bacolod City last Oct. 31.

A reporter for the newly-established alternative media outfit Paghimutad, Krueger was accused of being a NPA member and slapped with illegal possession of firearms.

“What next? Should we, too, to expect raids and planted evidence in our offices and homes?” the NUJP asked.

Several journalists accused of being CPP and NPA members have also been victims of arrests, threats and murder attempts.

Davao Today columnist Margarita Valle was arrested at Laguindingan Airport last June 9 and held incommunicado for 18 hours in what the police later admitted was a case of mistaken identity.

In Cagayan de Oro, repeated red-baiting victim and Mindanao Gold Star Daily associate editor Cong Corrales was alleged to have a P1 million bounty on his head.

Last August 6, red-baited American journalist Brandon Lee survived a slay try.

“Clearly, the intent of this red-tagging spree and all other assaults on press freedom is to intimidate the independent media into abandoning their critical stance as watchdogs and become mouthpieces of government,” the NUJP said.

The group had been consistently critical of President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial pronouncements against journalists and media killings.

The NUJP however said it will continue telling the truth, as “[t]he Filipino people deserve no less.”

“As for those behind these attempts to muzzle and shackle the Philippine press, should any harm befall our colleagues because of your machinations, you will be held to account,” the NUJP warned. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

[Disclosure: The reporter is currently NUJP’s deputy secretary general.]