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NUJP’s de Santos elected to executive committee of Asia-Pacific’s newest media federation

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) chairperson Jonathan de Santos was elected to the executive committee of Asia-Pacific’s newest media organization at the ongoing 31st World Congress of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in Muscat, Oman.

IFJ delegates from the region formed the Federation of Asia-Pacific Journalists (FAPaJ), the fourth regional formation of the world’s biggest organization of journalists.

IFJ Vice President and India Journalists Union (IJU) general secretary was elected president, Salem Al Jahwari was elected as vice president while Mousa Abdul Nour, Ali Yousef, Mohammad Alhammadi, Leigh Tonkin, Badri Sigdel and de Santos were elected as members of the executive committee.

“It is an honor for the NUJP to be part of the first executive council of FAPaJ, especially at a time when colleagues across the region are facing online harassment as well as repression and suppression in the guise of protecting the public against ‘fake news’,” de Santos told Kodao.

We hope that the new federation will help nurture existing cooperation among unions in Southeast Asia and lead to further solidarity among unions and press organizations across Asia and the Pacific towards press freedom and better working conditions for journalists,” de Santos added.

The NUJP is IFJ’s member organization in the Philippines.

At its founding, FAPaJ committed to protect the right to free speech, to strengthen free expression online and fight against laws which lead to internet shutdowns in the region.

The new regional federation adopted several resolutions, including voting unanimously to condemn the increasing assaults on the press in countries in the region including Afghanistan, Nepal, India, Myanmar and Hong Kong.

It also called for increased monitoring of the arrests and trials of journalists and other press freedom violations.

The delegates also moved to condemn the killing of Palestinian journalist Shiren Abu Aqla killed while covering Israeli army raids in the city of Jenin last month.

New IFJ president

Dominique Pradalié – IFJ World Congress Oman (IFJ photo)

Meanwhile, a Frenchwoman was elected as IFJ’s new president, succeeding Younes Mjahed from Morocco, the federation’s first woman president.

Dominique Pradalié from France, member of the National Union of Journalists (SNJ), was elected IFJ president after six years of being a member of the executive committee.

In her acceptance speech, Pradalié pointed out that press freedom is under attack all over the world and journalists are the first victims.

“But it is the citizens who are the most penalised, because democracies are judged by the quality of their media and information, which must be honest, complete, independent and pluralist,” Pradalié said.

“Solidarity and collective action must be multiplied everywhere to promote and remember the mission and role of journalists in society,” she added.

IFI’s 31st World Congress is attended by over 250 participants representing journalists’ unions and associations from 92 countries whose key themes include the surveillance of journalists and action to end impunity for crimes against media workers.

Founded in 1926, the IFJ is the world’s largest organization of journalists with 600,000 media professionals from 187 trade unions and associations in more than 140 countries. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NUJP demands arrest of media killing ‘mastermind’

Joel Reyes campaigning to reclaim Palawan governorship despite arrest warrant

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) called for the arrest of former Palawan governor Joel Reyes, alleged mastermind in the killing of Palawan broadcaster Gerry Ortega in 2011.

In a statement on Ortega’s 11th death anniversary on Monday, January 24, the NUJP said former Palawan governor Joel Reyes is campaigning to reclaim the top provincial post even as he remains a fugitive from law.

“[N]ot only is former governor Joel Reyes evading his warrant of arrest for Ortega’s killing, he is running for Palawan governor, according to news reports, and is campaigning while a subject of a manhunt,” the media group said.

Reyes and brother and former Coron mayor Mario fled the country in 2012 to evade arrest related to Ortega’s murder.

Both were arrested in Phuket, Thailand in September 2015 but were freed by the Court of Appeals (CA) in January 2018.

The appellate court however reversed itself and ordered the Regional Trial Court in Puerto Princesa to “issue a warrant of arrest against the petitioner (Joel) and to conduct proceedings in Criminal Case No. 26839 with purposeful dispatch” in November 2019.

“What is clear is that due to a Court of Appeals directive in 2019, the Regional Trial Court of Puerto Princesa had released an arrest warrant against him for [the] murder [of Ortega],” NUJP said.

Reyes is also facing separate graft charges over the alleged misuse of P1.5 billion in Malampaya funds.

Ortega, an environmentalist and known critic of the Reyeses, was the first media killing under the then Benigno Aquino government.

The broadcaster was shot in broad daylight in downtown Puerto Princesa City after leaving radio station DWAR.

The NUJP said the lack of justice over Ortega’s murder and Reyes’ bid for the governorship despite a graft conviction add to the impunity that has surrounded attacks against journalists as well as land and rights defenders.

READ: NUJP: Where is justice in Doc Gerry’s killing?

The group added the lack of justice in Ortega’s killing is emblematic of the culture of impunity in the Philippines, reminding them how the powerful seem to make a mockery of the justice system.

“We stand with the Ortega family, Doc Gerry’s colleagues and friends in the environmental movement and colleagues in the media in calling for justice and in demanding the service of the arrest warrant against Reyes,” NUJP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Media groups reveal renewed Baguio PNP red-tagging of journalists

Media groups slammed renewed efforts by the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Baguio City to red-tag journalists it alleges are members of Leftist organizations.

In an alert, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said at least two journalists in the Cordillera region have been invited to a fake dialogue with the Baguio City Police earlier this month that turned out to be a witch-hunting activity against journalists and activists.

On January 14, the Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club Inc. (BCBC) and NUJP’s Baguio-Benguet chapter said BCBC president Aldwin Quitasol was invited by the Baguio City Police to attend a so-called dialogue that turned out to be part of its Community Support Program White Area Operation (CSP-WAO), a component of the government’s Oplan Kapayapaan targeting suspected sympathizers of communist rebels in conflict-affected areas.

The second journalist refused to be identified.

 ‘Stop red-tagging’

In their joint statement BCBC and NUJP Baguio-Benguet demanded a stop to the red-tagging and witch-hunting of journalists.

“We are strongly concerned by the renewed effort of the (PNP) to drag us in their counterinsurgency campaign through Dumanon, Makitongtong (Seek and Talk), which the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) adopted from Oplan Tokhang of the Duterte administration,” the local media groups said.

Whatever name it carries, the PNP’s counter-insurgency campaigns involving journalists as well as activists aims to harass and intimidate, they added.

“We urge law enforcers to cease this madness, stop targeting activists and the media in their counterinsurgency actions. We also call on local governments to take a stand and protect the people against institutionalized red-tagging and political vilification,” BCBC and NUJP Baguio-Benguet said.

Human rights violations

This month’s incident is not the first time that Baguio City Police has accused journalists of links to supposed Communist fronts.

In February 2021, the Regional Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee in CAR endorsed tokhang-type campaigns against alleged left-leaning personalities, including activists and the media.

The proposal was quietly dropped after widespread criticism, but police officials last August revived the proposal for the so-called seek and talk strategy against alleged members of left-leaning organizations, the NUJP said.

Cases of red-tagging in the Cordillera Administrative Region rose to 15 incidents in 2021 from eight complaints filed in 2020, the NUJP, quoting the Cordillera office of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR-Cordillera), said.

The campaign is patterned after the tokhang campaign used in the Rodrigo Duterte government’s so-called war on drugs that, according to government data, has killed at least 6,000 victims, it added.

Following earlier police summons of Quitasol, CHR-Cordillera in June 2021 issued a resolution warning that red-tagging — linking individuals and groups to the communist armed rebellion — violates human rights.

Other rights organizations, including the UN Human Rights Office, have also warned against the practice, which they said can lead to harassment and physical attacks. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Gunmen attack broadcaster; media group demands probe

Another broadcaster was shot in Cebu City on Thursday, five days after Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa told the world about attacks against journalists in the Philippines.

Rico Osmeña of Cebu radio station dyLA was shot by two unidentified riding-in-tandem gunmen aboard a bus and was injured with another passenger at around 1 pm last December 16.

Both victims survived and are recuperating from their injuries.

Osmeña just finished his radio program when the attack happened.

Osmeña is also a correspondent for The Daily Tribune.

The Cebu chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemned the incident and called for a swift and impartial investigation.

“Osmeña’s shooting happened proximate to the upcoming election period – a period in our country perennially marred by violence and extrajudicial attempts to stifle media,” the group said.

NUJP Cebu noted that Visayas media had been victims of a series of attacks, recalling the assassination of DyRB radio commentator Rey Cortes last July, also in Cebu City.

“The reports of attacks on our colleagues in the Visayas are a result of the culture of impunity that prevails in our country. It is a culture that affirms the killings are a valid way to forward an agenda,” the group said.

The media security task force of the government also denounced the attack, adding it has already asked the regional police to find and apprehend the perpetrators.

Presidential Task Force on Media Security executive director Joel Sy Egco said it is too early to determine the motive behind the attack but said they presume it is work-related as a matter of policy.

Egco acknowledged that the election period may see more threats and violence against media workers.

In her speech in Oslo, Ressa called attention to the plight of journalist and broadcaster Frenchie Mae Quimpio who had been in jail for more than two years and the murder of Central Luzon-based journalist Jesus Santiago earlier this month.

The NUJP said at least 21 journalists have been killed under the Rodrigo Duterte government. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

A Call to the Philippine Army: Respect for Press Freedom in Word and Deed

STATEMENT: September 27, 2021

The Freedom for Media Freedom for All (FMFA) a coalition of press freedom advocates, condemns the Philippine Army’s Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) cyberattacks on the websites of two alternative media organizations, Bulatlat and AlterMidya, as assaults on press freedom and free expression.  

We call on the press and the media community as well as free expression groups to join their voices in the collective resistance of these violations of Constitutionally-protected rights.

Philippine Army spokespersons have denied responsibility for the attacks. But the government’s own Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT), through its Computer Emergency Response Team has traced these actions to the Internet Protocol (IP) address assigned to the PA.

DDOS attacks overwhelm websites with fake traffic and makes them inaccessible. It is no more than a form of censorship repugnant to any society that claims to be a democracy. 

Information has always been crucial to the exercise of a people’s sovereign will that is the core of a democracy. A free press must provide a diversity of views so that society can engage in the decision-making process, debate and argumentation that is crucial to good governance.  

It is specially vital today when, besieged by a pandemic and in preparation of national elections in 2022, Filipinos must be able to decide who will lead them for the next six years after the end of this administration. The Filipino people are called to make one of the most important decisions in the country’s political history. 

The Philippine Army is sworn to defend the country and protect the people. Its service does not operate in the political sphere. In contrast, the press in providing news is necessarily engaged in political affairs. The Army’s interference in the conduct of news organizations over reaches the military mandate. Even as it claims to respect press freedom, these recent actions have directly attacked the press, an institution protected by nothing less than the Constitution. 

Since the military by its function is not a repository of democratic values, we call on our soldiers to cease forthwith this insidious campaign to silence media and its members; to limit citizen access to views and perspectives that may differ from those held by the government in power. 

The Philippine Army should demonstrate the respect for press freedom in deeds as well as in words. 

Signed,

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)

Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR)

Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ)

Mindanews

Philippine Press Institute (PPI)

Mga tula para kina Nonoy at Neil

ANG IKALIMANG BULKAN NG NEGROS

Ni Raymund B. Villanueva

Ang Negros ay may limang bulkan:

Kanlaon, Talinis, Silay at Mandalagan

Habang ang iba’y himbing, madalas magbuga ang una

Pinaka-masipag ang panlima, ngala’y Nonoy Espina.

Totoong ang Kanlaon ang pinakamatayog

Ngunit si Nonoy ang siyang bantayog

Siyang walang tabing na ulap at sinag sa tuktok

Ulo’y yukod sa lupa, korona’y puting buhok.

At kung si Nonoy ang nag-iingay

Hindi lamang ungol, hindi lamang dighay

Sabog kung sabog, walang awatan

Tulad ng apat, tunay ring bulkan.

Ngunit ang apoy niya’y biyaya

Liwanag sa karimlan, sa dibdib ay pag-asa

Pampatining ng bakal, pampatibay ng tuhod

Sa mga nanghihina’y pantuwid ng gulugod.

Bawat pagsabog niya’y pagpapala

Alay pagdaka ay matabang lupa

Tayong mortal ay hinikayat magtanim

Sa bukang-liwayway ay may aanihin.

Ating bulkan man ngayo’y himlay

Hindi niya nais ang protracted na lumbay

Bakas niya’y habang buhay na gabay:

“Taena, bok, gapiin ang kaaway!”

–1:20 n.h.

  16 Hulyo 2021

  Lungsod Quezon

= = = = = = = =

PANÁTA NI DOLÓ

(Pagkaraán ng “Alípin ng Gútom”, Linocut, 18”x18”, 2015)

Ni Rene Boy Abiva

(i)

Pinupúnit nitong tínta, pinsél, at kámbas ang bagsík

Ng balutìng púro dugô. Di yatà’t pawang taláhib

Na mabilís makasúgat sa mga paá’t balíkat

Papakín mo man ng halík ay tiyák na magnanaknák.

(ii)

Kung gayon, ang báwat hágod ng patúlis at manipís

Na brótsa ay pawang tukâ ng tandáng na bumabásag

Sa báwat madalîng-áraw. “Doló! May imórtalidád?”

“Walâ! Pantásya lang ito ng pala-túlog na burgís!”

(iii)

Halá! Bángo’t magsigísing kayóng mga maka-síning,

At h’wág sanang ikatwírang ngayón lang kayó nagisíng!

Matutúhan niyo sana na kung kayó’y isáng bagtíng

At sa digmàan gamítin, alípin ay magpipigíng!

(iv)

Ah! Mukhâng tamà nga yatà ang sabi ng matatandâ

Doón sa libís ng Tayug, lupàng mahál ni Calosa,

“Íngatan mo’t parámihin itong mga sambásambá,

Pagkát mínsa’y itinumbá nilá ang gintông kalésa.”

(v)

Ganyán, ganyán ang kamandág! Nakakanginíg ng pálad!

Yaóng para kang bumúhat ng tubó túngong kamálig,

O nagkamáda ng batóng umugáog sa daigdíg;

Ganitó nga kung wásakin ng ’saáng pintór ang ligálig.

= = = = = = = = =

(Ang mga tulang ito ay handog kina Jose Jaime “Nonoy” L. Espina ng National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) at Leonilo “Neil” O. Doloricon ng Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP). Si Nonoy ay pumanaw noong Hulyo 7 samantalang si Neil ay namaalam noong Hulyo 16, kapwa sa sakit.

Kapwa silang kasaping tagapagtatag ng kani-kanilang organisasyon at mga kagyat na dating tagapangulo ng mga ito sa panahon ng kanilang kamatayan. Si Nonoy ay tagapangulo ng NUJP mula 2018 hanggang Marso 2021 at si Neil nama’y tagapangulo ng CAP mula 2019 hanggang Mayo ngayong taon.

Mga nangugunang tagapag-tanggol ng kalayaan sa pamamahayag at ekspresyon, huling nagkasama sina Neil at Nonoy sa pinakalamalaking pagkilos para sa karapatang ito ng bansa noong 2020 sa harap ng ABS-CBN sa Lungsod Quezon.)

‘Habang lumiliit ang democratic space, mas kinakailangan nating itulak na maging malaya’

“Napakahalaga, lalo na sa panahon ng pandemya, ang tapat at malayang pagbabalita. Habang patuloy tayong pinipilit na sumabay sa opisyal na pahayag ng pamahalaan at habang lumiliit ang democratic space sa Pilipinas, mas kinakailangan nating itulak na maging malaya.”Jonathan de Santos, Chairperson, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines

NUJP slams CamNorte order barring journalists from covering SP sessions

A media group condemned a Camarines Norte Provincial Council resolution barring journalists from covering its sessions unless they present a negative antigen test.

In a statement, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said the inclusion of media practitioners among guests and observers who must prove they are not infected with the virus constitutes prior restraint.

“The battle against the spread of the pandemic should not be used as an excuse to impose prior restraint. While we recognize the alarming rate of COVID-19 infection, the burden of ensuring safety protocols should not be with journalists but with the local government,” the NUJP said.

Last week, the council approved a resolution requiring a negative rapid antigen test result for all non-Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) personnel who wish to cover the sessions.

The resolution said it aims to protect the members and staff of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan against COVID-19.

The NUJP however said the resolution would prevent the media from playing its role as a watchdog of the government.

“All sessions should be done publicly and should be open to all media practitioners covering the SP. It is repressive to require the media to spend P2,000 – P2,300 pesos weekly for the rapid antigen test given the financial constraint of local newsrooms,” the group explained.

“NUJP reiterates its stand that the media should be treated as frontliners, hence should be covered by free routine COVID-19 tests,” it said, adding it is the duty of the local government to provide free testing to all local media covering the sessions.

To provide further protection for all those present during council sessions, the NUJP also recommended the local government also should designate media area to separate them from the guests and observers in the session hall.

Sixteen local media practitioners in the province also signed a petition against the resolution. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Groups slam Duterte’s personal vendetta vs ABS-CBN, challenge Congress to prove independence

Groups condemned Rodrigo Duterte’s latest tirade against ABS-CBN, saying the President only proved vindictiveness in announcing he will defy Congress should it pass a new franchise law for the network.

The group Pirma Kapamilya slammed Duterte’s recent statement that he will order the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) not to issue ABS-CBN a permit to operate even if a franchise law is passed.

“His recent pronouncement reveals that last year’s denial of ABS-CBN’s franchise was nothing more but his personal vendetta at the expense of the viewing public, press freedom, and of the displaced employees of the network,” Pirma Kapamilya in a statement said.

“This is a symptom of his toxic ‘personalan politics’ not needed at this crucial time,” the group added.

Pirma Kapamilya is a volunteer group gathering signatures for a people’s initiative for a new franchise law for the network.

In his latest Monday night public address, Duterte accused Congress is planning to restore the broadcast franchise of the Lopezes.

“I don’t have a problem if Congress restores it. But if you say that if they can operate if they already have a franchise, no. I will not allow them. I will not allow the NTC to grant them the permit to operate,” Duterte said.

He again accused ABS-CBN of being a tax evader.

“Unless and until taxes are paid, I will ignore your franchise. I will not give them the license to operate. That’s nonsense. It’s like giving them a prize for committing criminal acts,” Duterte said.

Pirma Kapamilya however said Duterte continues to spread lies about the tax issue of the network even as the Bureau of Internal Revenue BIR cleared the network of any tax obligations.

Meanwhile, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) challenged the House of Representatives to prove its independence and finally grant ABS-CBN its franchise.

“We are tempted to thank President Rodrigo Duterte for proving us right about what we have been saying all along, that the shutdown of ABS-CBN was a personal vendetta that a lapdog Congress helped seal,” it said.

“Perhaps it is not too late for the members of the House of Representatives to salvage their reputations, to prove that they are what the Constitution charges them to be, members of a co-equal and INDEPENDENT branch of government, and no longer the willing accomplices to the continuing siege on press freedom and all our other rights and liberties,” the NUJP added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NUJP: Where is justice in Doc Gerry’s killing?

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) bewailed the lack of justice for the killing of a broadcaster in Palawan exactly a decade ago.

In a statement, the media group urged the Court of Appeals to conduct proceedings to prosecute the accused in the killing of journalist, environmentalist and good governance advocate Gerardo “Doc Gerry” Ortega on January 24, 2011.

Ortega was shot dead by a gunman at a thrift store he visited after hosting his program “Ramatak” on the Puerto Princesa City radio station dwAR-FM.

He was the first journalist killed under the Benigno Aquino presidency.

The gunman was almost immediately caught, followed quickly by other members of the hit team, all of whom named those who allegedly ordered the hit – former Palawan governor Joel Reyes and his brother Mario, then the Coron mayor, as well as other accomplices.

Most of the accused have since been convicted, except the Reyes brothers who fled the country in March 2012.

They were arrested in Thailand in September 2015 and deported back to the Philippines.

Joel Reyes was ordered freed by the Court of Appeals on January 2018 but he was rearrested and jailed in Camp Bagong Diwa after his conviction for graft by the Sandiganbayan.

In November 2019 the appellate court reversed its January 2018 decision and ordered the resumption of the Ortega murder trial.

The NUJP noted that trials for the murder of journalists are unusually long in the Philippines, itself a form of injustice to the victims and their families.

“[I]t took a decade for a verdict to be handed down on those accused of carrying out the November 23, 2009 Ampatuan massacre, which claimed the lives of 58 persons, 32 of them journalists. And even then, the legal process is far from over with appeals filed and scores of other suspects still at large,” the group said.

The NUJP said the families endure the protracted process and the dangers of harassments and threats from the masterminds.

“It is a testament to their courage that neither the families of the massacre victims nor of Doc Gerry have wavered in their search for justice, despite the many dangers and obstacles placed in their way,” the NUJP said.

“[B]y any standards, a decade without justice is clearly justice too long denied for Doc Gerry, his wife Patty, and their children. We urge the trial court to take to heart the CA’s order to conduct proceedings in criminal case No. 26839 with purposeful dispatch,” the group added.

In a Facebook post, Ortega’s son Joaquin Philippe said their family has already learned to live without their father but the late broadcaster and his battle against corruption and greed are still remembered.

“That battle is far from over. I don’t believe justice is a myth, but I believe our society’s current systems need to change,” the young Ortega wrote. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)