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NUJP salutes CDO colleagues’ unity in defense of press freedom

28 May 2019

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines hails our colleagues in Cagayan de Oro for their show of unity against unrelenting efforts to suppress freedom of the press and of expression.

When unidentified persons draped a black streamer naming so-called communist rebel “front organizations” – including the NUJP – on the fence of Cagayan de Oro’s Press Freedom Monument at Vicente de Lara Park, it was clear that we were not the sole media group targeted by this red-tagging operation, something we have been subjected to since late last year.

That the incident happened on the first day of Cagayan de Oro’s celebration of Press Freedom Week, an annual event dear to the hearts of our colleagues in the City of Golden Friendship, indicates it was intended as a warning to all journalists to go easy on critical reportage and commentary.

The response of our colleagues from the different media organization in Cagayan de Oro was as swift as it was appropriate: they tore the streamer down and set it alight, while vowing to remain united and not be cowed by those seeking to suppress the full exercise of democratic rights.

At a time when the threats to the profession and our basic rights and liberties continue to worsen, unfortunately abetted by a contemptible few who have chosen to betray the profession of truth, the example set by the media of Cagayan de Oro is proof of what we have maintained all along, that the united community of independent Filipino journalists is capable of holding back the darkness that seeks to engulf us once again.

The NUJP National Directorate

ALERT: NUJP red-tagged as Cagayan de Oro media commemorates Press Freedom Week

27 May 2019

A streamer tagging the National Union Of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and other activist groups as allies of the ‘terrorist NPA’ was found draped at the foot of the monument honoring Press Freedom at the Provincial Capitol grounds in Cagayan de Oro.

The other groups similarly branded as ‘terrorists’ are the Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM), the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), the the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), the League of Filipino Students (LFS), the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP), and the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE).

The streamer was found by members of the Cagayan de Oro Press Club (CLUB) who gathered at the Press Freedom monument to launch the week-long commemoration of the 37th Press Freedom Week.

The streamer was later set ablaze following a 7am mass attended by members of the COPC.

Photo by Menzie Montes

“We condemn the red-tagging of the NUJP,”club member Uriel Quilinguing, a former president of the COPC as well as a former chairman of the NUJP-Cagayan de Oro Chapter, said.

Quilinguing said the COPC and other media groups in Cagayan de Oro City condemn what they called ‘baseless accusations’ against the NUJP.

Quilinguing called on the media to stay united in the face of threats which, he said is also the theme of Press Freedom Week.

Pamela Jay Orias, chairperson of the Cagayan de Oro Chapter of the NUJP, said a free press is a hallmark of a free and democratic society.

“A critical press serves the public interest and should therefore not be subjected to attacks,” Orias said.

No group has come out to claim responsibility for the red-tagging.

Reference:

JB R. Deveza
NUJP Safety Officer for western Mindanao

Despite the release of detained Reuters reporters, free speech remains under threat in Myanmar

By Mong Palatino/Global Voices

Media groups and human rights advocates are celebrating the release of Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo who spent more than 500 days in detention for their role in investigating the massacre of some Rohingya residents in northern Myanmar. But despite their release, the state of free speech in the country is still undermined by the continued detention and persecution of some artists, journalists, and activists. Consider the following cases:

Defamation case against The Irrawaddy

A defamation complaint was filed by the military’s Yangon Region Command against The Irrawaddy’s Burmese-language editor U Ye Ni over the news website’s alleged unfair coverage of the armed clashes between government forces and the insurgent Arakan Army in Rakhine State. The Irrawaddy said it did nothing but report the escalating armed clashes in the region since the start of 2019. Here is U Ye Ni’s response to the case filed by the military:

I feel sorry about the military’s misunderstanding of us. Journalism dictates that we reveal the suffering of people in a conflict area. Our intention behind the coverage is to push those concerned to solve the problems by understanding the sufferings of the people.

The Irrawaddy is a content partner of Global Voices.

Jailed for satire

Meanwhile, five members of the Peacock Generation Thangyat troupe were sent to Insein prison to await trial for their satirical performance mocking the army. Thangyat is performance art similar to slam poetry featuring folk verses with traditional musical notes and is combined with song, dance, and chants. The group was charged with violating article 505(a) of the penal code which criminalizes the circulation of statements, rumors, or reports with the intent to cause any military officer to disregard or fail in his duties.

Zeyar Lwin, one of the accused, said:

All of our cases are political issues so that they need to resolve them as political issues. And also, I’d like to say all of us need to join the work for amending the 2008 constitution being done in parliament. In my opinion all of these issues can be resolved if we can do the primary work of amending the constitution.

Zeyar Lwin is referring to the 2008 constitution which many analysts believe was designed to reinforce military rule even after the restoration of civilian leadership.

Sickly filmmaker in detention

The case of filmmaker Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi also reflects the restrictions imposed on critical artists. A complaint filed by a military officer against the filmmaker’s ‘defamatory’ Facebook posts led to his arrest. Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi is the founder of the Myanmar Human Rights Human Dignity Film Festival and a known critic of the military’s involvement in politics. His supporters are calling for his release on humanitarian grounds, since he has had half of his liver removed due to cancer and suffers from heart and kidney problems. The Human Rights Film Network, a partnership of 40 human rights film festivals around the world, sent this letter to the government:

As a concerned international human rights community, we seek reassurance from the Myanmar government to ensure that Section66(d), which was meant to enhance progress of telecommunications, will not be used to silence the voice of Myanmarese civilians seeking to voice their opinions and take part in the democratic process in Myanmar.

The letter refers to the controversial Section 66(d) defamation law which has been used by authorities to charge critics, activists, and journalists.

Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi’s petition for bail was rejected by a local court. His next hearing is scheduled for May 9, 2019.

‘They should never have been jailed in the first place.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were sentenced to seven years in prison for violating the colonial-era Official Secrets Act. The Supreme Court upheld their conviction last April with finality but they were released from prison after they were granted a presidential pardon during the country’s traditional New Year.

Groups like the Southeast Asian Press Alliance welcomed the release of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo but they also highlighted the injustice suffered by the two reporters:

They should never have been jailed in the first place, because they committed no crime.

While we welcome this positive development, the case of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo is proof that journalists are in constant risk of political reprisal for keeping power in check.

This article by Mong Palatino is from Global Voices, an international and multilingual news site, and is republished on Kodao Productions as part of a content-sharing agreement.

NUJP on Duterte’s insult of Tordesillas

14 May 2019
Once again, the foul-mouthed misogynist who is the leader of our nation turns to personal insults when he will not or, most likely, cannot offer a credible explanation to his badly concocted and fictitious accusations against critics.

Asked by reporters in Davao City to explain the so-called “matrix” purporting to show a plot to oust him, which his spokesman Salvador Panelo at first attributed to him only to later claim it came from an unknown source, President Rodrigo Duterte insisted it was “authentic” as “Bikoy,” the erstwhile hooded character who appeared in a series of videos accusing the chief executive and members of his family of involvement in the drug trade and was later claimed by Peter Joemel Advincula.

He then vented his ire on veteran journalist Ellen Tordesillas of Vera Files, one of those implicated in the matrix, who he called “every inch a prostitute.”

And while he did not name them, Duterte was apparently referring to other journalists included in the document when he referred to “professional twisters” who “are bayad sa (paid by the) Western …”

There is no question Duterte’s tiresome habit of spewing personal insults is intended to intimidate his targets into silence or submission.

Alas for him, his fits and tantrums speak more about his character than those he would smear.

His are the tactics of the thug who resorts to the bludgeon because he cannot reason, and even then he fails miserably.

We know for a fact that Ellen possesses more courage than he can ever hope to have beyond his macho posturing. So, too, do the other journalists he vilifies. As do all those who comprise the community of independent Filipino journalists.

Mr. Duterte may choose to ignore the lessons of history but does so at his own peril.

But of one thing we are sure, as history has amply proven. Despots come and eventually go. The truth and freedom will always outlast them.

The NUJP National Directorate

NUJP: Malacañang’s ‘new’ matrix ‘a badly-concocted fiction’

The new “matrix” presented by presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo linking the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) as among those involved in the “deliberate attempt to discredit” the Rodrigo Duterte administration is nothing but “a piece of unadulterated crap,” the media group said.

Dismissing Malacañang Palace’s new latest accusation, the NUJP said the new diagram is another badly-concocted fiction meant to scare the administration’s perceived enemies, including independent journalists.

In his briefing Wednesday, Panelo presented diagrams showing the NUJP as involved in an alleged destabilization and link with political groups such as the Liberal Party and the rightist Magdalo Party.

Screengrab of RTVM’s video of presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo’s briefing Wednesday morning.

“The Office of the President, the President himself, has received intelligence information that has been validated and appears to show that there is deliberate attempt to discredit this administration as well as to boost the candidacies of the opposition—senatorial candidates. And it appears that there are certain groups who are working together to achieve this goal,” Panelo said.

“This group appeas to be the Liberal Party, some personalities identified as advocates who are very active on social media dishing out anti-Duterte statements and sentiments, and validated to be allied with the Liberal Party. Also, working together with groups in the matrix presented to you the other week,” Panelo said.

The NUJP said that Panelo’s statement linking the group to Rodel Jayme, arrested last week for uploading videos accusing members of the first family as well as senatorial candidate Christopher “Bong” Go, as having links with the illegal drug trade is criminal endangerment of people “without an iota of evidence.”

“But we say let them try their worst. They cannot scare the community of independent Filipino journalists into silence,” the NUJP said. (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CEGP honors NUJP’s Espina with MH del Pilar Award

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) awarded National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) national chairperson Jose Jaime “Nonoy” Espina its highest honor to its alumni at the start of the World Press Freedom concert in Quezon City last Friday, May 3.

In a special ceremony, the CEGP finally handed the award to Espina who was supposed to receive it during the Guild’s 77th National Students Press Convention at the University of the Philippines—Visayas (UPV) in Cebu City last March 9.

The awardee failed to attend the convention due to a family emergency.

The award, named after the journalist, patriot and hero Del Pilar, was given to Espina for being “a pillar of press freedom.”

“On top of his distinguished journalism career, the awardee is, without doubt, a leading force in the defense of press freedom and freedom of expression in the country today,” the CEGP’s citation, read by its secretary general Paula Sabrine Janer, said.

“As a multi-term NUJP director and now its national chairperson, the awardee steadfastly stands for these rights and leads his organization to their defense. Whatever prestige that the NUJP enjoys as a media organization here and abroad, it is owed in great part to our awardee’s leadership,” the Guild’s citation added.

Espina was a high school campus journalist in his hometome Bacolod City before becoming the editor of Pagbutlak, UPV’s college student publication in Iloilo City.

He was a member of the community media group Correspondents, Broadcasters and Reporters Association—Action News Service or COBRA-ANS of Negros Occidental that was part of the “Mosquito Press” that fought the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship. He also became a reporter and editor of various local and national media outifts.

“[I]n honoring our awardee’s progressive, patriotic and disinguished career in journalism and for his principled and brave defense of press freedom and human rights in the Philippines, the CEGP awards this year’s Gawad Marcelo H. Del Pilar Award to a journalist worth emulating by student journalists everywhere,” the CEGP added.

NUJP national chairperson Nonoy Espina with his Marcelo H. Del Pilar Award trophy and certificate from the College Editors Guild of the Philippines. (Photo by Lito Ocampo)

In his acceptance speech, Espina said he is just a journalist who stands by his profession.

“I realized the importance of our profession in democracy, in society. I came to love this profession when I saw for myself the real situation of the people, especially the marginalized,” Espina said.

He added that he does not see journalism as the people’s voice but a platform so their stories are told.

“I have come to love journalism because, in my three decades of being a journalist, people sometimes come up to me to thank me for writing about their struggles,” Espina said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Salute to integrity

April 26, 2019

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines salutes Felipe Salvosa II for his courageous display of journalistic integrity.

By openly protesting Manila Times owner Dante Ang’s insistence on publishing that malicious fiction about journalists and lawyers supposedly plotting to oust President Rodrigo Duterte, first by tweeting against it and resigning as managing editor of the paper, Mr. Salvosa has affirmed that journalism, is indeed, the profession of truth.

That he has done so at a time when the profession is under siege, not least by an administration that is the foremost purveyor of lies yet attempts to mask this fact by laying this charge on the critical press, is proof that the community of independent Filipino journalists values integrity and professionalism and will never succumb to pressure or blandishment to betray our calling.

Indeed, to borrow Mr. Salvosa’s words, the truly professional Filipino journalist seeks nothing more than to be able to “look our audience straight in the eye,” assured that we have served the people’s right to know faithfully.

The National Directorate

Kin of journalists slain in Ampatuan massacre demand end to intrigues, urge unity

The families of the 32 journalists who lost their lives in the November 23, 2009 Ampatuan massacre demanded an end to what they called intrigues intended to sow disunity between them and organizations that have been assisting them for the past decade.

In all, 58 persons were murdered in what has been acknowledged as the worst case of electoral violence in recent Philippine history and the single deadliest attack on the press ever recorded.

Joining members and officers of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines who held an activity in General Santos City as part of the monthly countdown leading up to the 10th anniversary of the massacre, the families, who have organized themselves as JUSTICE NOW, issued a statement “to clarify any misimpressions created by certain groups and personalities who claim that we are demanding an accounting of the assistance we received through media organizations.”

This was in response to earlier claims that families of the slain journalists were demanding an accounting of all donations intended for them because of the supposed “broken promises” of livelihood and scholarships by media organizations through whom funds were channeled.

“We are aware that, although no names were mentioned, the supposed demand for accountability was primarily targeted at the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, which, we once again stress, was one of the first organizations to rush to our side right after the massacre and has never left us since then,” JIUSTICE NOW said.

The families also stressed that “we have not and are not demanding, as some quarters claim, demanding that the NUJP open its records and show us where the funds and other assistance meant for us went.”

“If there is anything we are demanding, it is that government show the records of where the international assistance reportedly channeled through it has gone,” the families said.

JUSTICE NOW said it knew how the assistance coursed through the NUJP had been used “since we see the living proof of this – our children who have availed of the scholarships NUJP helped secure for them, many of whom have graduated and are now helping support our families, replacing the breadwinners we lost 10 years ago.”

It also acknowledged that the funding for the scholarships had run out because “they NUJP has been very open with us” and they were also informed by the International Federation of Journalists, which secured the assistance.

“But this is not about money,” the families stressed. “This is about unity – ours as the victims’ families and that which we forged with the NUJP 10 years ago – and our continued call for justice.”

At the same time, they called on those seeking to sow division among them to stop because “you do not speak for us and have no right to.”

“We ask you instead to join us in continuing to demand justice for the 58 persons who lost their lives in the massacre through the final conviction and punishment of all those involved in planning and carrying out” the massacre.

Following is the full statement of JUSTICE NOW:

We, the families of the 32 media workers who lost their lives in the November 23, 2009 Ampatuan massacre, organized as the JUSTICE NOW MOVEMENT, wish to issue this position paper to clarify any misimpressions created by certain groups and personalities who claim that we are demanding an accounting of the assistance we received through media organizations.

We are aware that, although no names were mentioned, the supposed demand for accountability was primarily targeted at the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, which, we once again stress, was one of the first organizations to rush to our side right after the massacre and has never left us since then.

In fact, our presence here today with the NUJP at the monthly countdown to the 10th anniversary of the massacre is proof that what we promised each other since that fateful day – “Walang iwanan” – holds true to this day. 
JUSTICE NOW also clarifies that we have not and are not demanding, as some quarters claim, that the NUJP open its records and show us where the funds and other assistance meant for us went.

This is because we are fully aware that the NUJP is an organization of working journalists and does not have the funds for this kind of work, and that what it does is help source and secure the assistance needed by the families of murdered journalists, not only those of the victims of the massacre.

Aside from this, we know very well where and how these were spent since we see the living proof of this – our children who have availed of the scholarships NUJP helped secure for them, many of whom have graduated and are now helping support our families, replacing the breadwinners we lost 10 years ago.

The NUJP has also been very open with us, updating and consulting us regularly. We also know that the scholarship fund has finally run out as we were informed about this last year by the International Federation of Journalists, which secured the assistance. If there is anything we are demanding, it is that government show the records of where the international assistance reportedly channeled through it has gone.

In the aftermath of the massacre, many promises of help were made. In fact, not just by government but even by other media groups. However, because the masterminds who planned and led in carrying out the massacre were government officials and agents, we feel it is the State that carries the primary responsibility of providing assistance to us and explaining why this has not been forthcoming, after a decade.

We remember in the aftermath of the massacre that then Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman made us undergo a seminar on proposal making and promised that the output would lead to funding assistance. We understand that release documents had been prepared for approved proposals. Yet, to date, we have received nothing.

But this is not about money. This is about unity – ours as the victims’ families and that which we forged with the NUJP 10 years ago – and our continued call for justice. We call on the quarters behind these attempts to break our unity by raising the bogey of funding and so-called demands for transparency and accountability to stop.

You do not speak for us and have no right to. We ask you instead to join us in continuing to demand justice for the 58 persons who lost their lives in the massacre through the final conviction and punishment of all those involved in planning and carrying out the worst incident of electoral violence in our country’s recent history and the single deadliest attack on the press ever.

Our call remains, JUSTICE NOW, CONVICT AMPATUAN!

Reference:
Emily Lopez, Chairperson
Mary Grace Morales, Secretary General

‘Magic matrix’

“The source of that is from the Office of the President, from the President himself. I don’t know how he got one but it’s coming from the President. I talked to him the other day,” chief presidential legal adviser and presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

Last April 16 in Tuguegarao City, Duterte said intelligence reports have been fed to him from “foreign” sources about the supposed coordinated media plot to discredit him. Panelo admitted that the President himself ordered him to release the matrix in a Malacañan press conference Monday, April 22.

Cartoon by Mark Suva/Kodao

Lawyers: Duterte a disgrace to the legal profession

Rodrigo Duterte is a disgrace to the legal profession, a lawyers’ group said after the president reportedly authorized the release of a matrix to the public yesterday alleging a destabilization plot by journalists and lawyers.

In the press conference in Quezon City this morning, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), named as among those involved in the destabilization plot to oust the president, said Duterte may have violated several laws in allowing a “foreign intelligence body” to launch surveillance operations against Filipino citizens.

“He is a big disappointment to the legal profession as he has abandoned all legal tenets,” NUPL chairperson and senatorial aspirant Neri Colmenares said.

Colmenares said Duterte, a lawyer, may have violated several laws in authorizing the release of the matrix naming the NUPL as well as Rappler, Vera Files and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) as among those seeking to destabilize the government.

Among the laws that may have been violated are the Anti-Wiretapping Law, the Data Protection Act, the Eletronic Engineering Act as well as Constitutional provisions on privacy, he added.

“Duterte is intolerant of dissent. Diyos niya ang intelligence reports. Lawyers like us should be ruled by evidence, which he and Panelo, also a lawyer, failed to present,” Colmenares explained.

NUPL recalled that Duterte announced last week he will get back at media organizations that came out with reports about the rise in his family’s wealth.

“In the coming weeks, I will return the favor. So [PCIJ], you better stop,” Duterte said.

NUPL secretary general Ephraim Cortez also said that the president may have also violated the Rules of Court allowing lawyers to represent anyone.

“[The matrix is] disturbing and without let up…designed to stifle dissent and is an attack against the legal profession,” Cortez said.

“It is doubly dangerous because it is peddled by Duterte himself, which means he is telling his foot soldiers it is open season for lawyers and journalists,” Cortez added.

The NUPL said they will raise Malacañan’s latest attack against them to the Supreme Court as a supplement to its Writ of Amparo petition filed last April 15 seeking protection for government state forces linking the human rights lawyers to the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army.

The NUPL yesterday immediately denied it is involved in any plot to oust Duterte, saying its lawyers does not have time beyond defending their many clients. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)