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NUJP condemns jailing of Myanmar journalists

September 4, 2018

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines condemns the sentencing of our Myanmar colleagues Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo of the Reuters news agency to seven years in jail under that country’s Official Secrets Act.

Myanmar has effectively outlawed freedom of the press and belied all its claims of democratization.

The only way for Myanmar to rectify this grievous injustice is to free our colleagues and pledge to respect and uphold freedom of the press.

We extend our sympathy to the families of the two and declare our support for colleagues in Myanmar.

At the same time, we note that the jailing of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo is not an isolated incident but part of the worsening trend of media repression in Southeast Asia as governments seek to control the free flow of information and the public discourse.

We call on journalists throughout the region to close ranks and vigorously oppose all efforts to muzzle us and prevent us from serving our peoples’ sacred right to know.

NUJP Directorate

NutriAsia guards, Meycauayan police deliberately attack journalists

During the violent dispersal of striking NutriAsia workers and their supporters last Monday, July 30, company guards and Meycauayan police under the direct supervision of Superintendent Santos Mera attacked and arrested without provocation members of the media covering the incident.

This video is a collection of actual footage by Kodao and Altermidya reporters who were arrested and hurt, as well as Supt. Mera’s illegal efforts to prevent others to inquire with him if they arrested the five journalists.

Journalism is NOT a crime

July 31, 2018

It is a dark time for democracy and freedom when journalists are treated as criminals – arrested, beaten up, threatened, charged and prevented from doing their work – as happened to our colleagues who covered the violent dispersal of striking workers of NutriAsia and their supporters in Marilao, Bulacan Monday afternoon, July 30.

Footage obtained by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines tends to show that this brazen assault on working journalists – therefore an attack on press freedom itself – was deliberate and not merely triggered by the heat of the moment.

Our colleagues – four from the alternative media (Hiyas Saturay, Eric Tandoc, Avon Ang and Psalty Caluza) and one from UP campus publication Scientia (Jon Angelo Bonifacio)– were harrassed and arrested. Video footage shows a policeman grabbing Saturay, who was on assignment for the AlterMidya Network, and dragging her away even after she had informed him of who she was.

Rosemarie Alcaraz of Radyo Natin-Guimba, who is also the secretary-general of our Nueva Ecija chapter, was hit by truncheon. NutriAsia guards also dragged Bonifacio, causing him to stumble and sustain injuries and threatened to beat up Kodao Productions cameraman Joseph Cuevas with police personnel not even attempting to prevent a clear threat to life and limb.

As if these weren’t bad enough, when Jola Diones-Mamangun of Kodao Productions went to the Meycauayan police station where those arrested, including our colleagues, were detained, she was denied access to them as officers uttered the obviously false and ludicrous claim that drugs and guns had been recovered from the people they had picked up.

Superintendent Santos Mera, the Meycauayan police chief, was also quoted as saying media needed permits to cover events at his station, a requirement we are sure he very well knows is unconstitutional. Even after their identities have been established, our arrested colleagues were among those subjected to inquest proceedings by the Bulacan police today.

We reiterate our demand for the authorities to withdraw the charges and release our colleagues and end this outrageous farce against them. Unless the authorities now consider journalism a crime and its practitioners as dangerous felons.

We urge the community of independent Filipino journalists to rally around our beleaguered colleagues and send a clear signal that we will not allow any assault on freedom of the press and of expression to pass unchallenged and will hold anyone responsible accountable.

 

Police denies Kodao’s inquiry on arrested journos

Kodao Productions went to the police station in Meycauayan, Bulacan Monday afternoon to cover and verify the arrest of fellow Altermidya reporters. This is an audio recording of the exchange between Kodao executive director Jola Diones-Mamangun and police officers inside the police station. (Editing by Film Weekly)

Video shows violent NutriAsia dispersal instigated by guards

Using Philippine National Police shields, NutriAsia guards attacked the striking workers and their supporters in the violent dispersal at Marilao, Bulacan Monday afternoon, July 30.

In this video by Radyo Natin-Guimba reporter Jek Alcaraz, the workers and their supporters were asking the guards not to use their truncheons but were viciously attacked nonetheless.

Alcaraz was told by guards to go behind them, but was later hit on her lower right thigh by a truncheon-flailing guard during the melee.

The workers tried to defend themselves with placards as shield and later threw back a few stones and pieces of wood in retaliation but were easily overpowered by the aggressive guards.

The video later showed Alcaraz momentarily trapped inside the strikers’ makeshift hut but was able to retreat to a safe distance after instructing a woman to go through a gap in a barbwire fence.

Scores hurt, arrested from violent dispersal by police and NutriAsia guards

Nineteen NutriAsia workers and supporters were arrested as 100 elements of the Meycauyan Police and security guards dispersed the picketline just outside the factory in Marilao, Bulacan.

In a phone interview with Bulatlat, NutriAsia worker William Espiritu said the violence started at around 3. pm. today, July 31.

While an ecumenical prayer by some 300 workers and supporters was being held, company security guards started pushing the workers using police’s shields. After a few minutes, the policemen and guards hit the protesters with rattan sticks and threw stones at them.

“They kept on striking us, even as we raised our hands,” Espiritu said. “They did not have any mercy.”

Espiritu said a dialogue between the management and their union was scheduled today. “We were ready to dismantle our picket if need be. Our only demand is to reinstate all the dismissed workers,” he said in Filipino.

One of the supporters of NutriAsia workers hit by the police. (Photo courtesy of Anakbayan)

One of the supporters, identified as Leticia Espino, a member of Kadamay from Pandi, Bulacan was among those hurt. A photograph posted by Anakbayan shows blood all over Espino’s mouth, spilling on her scarf and blouse.

Two others, Espiritu said, were brought to the hospital in critical condition. At least 20 more were wounded and given first aid.

Nineteen were arrested and brought to Meycauayan Police Station, according to Karra Taggaoa, spokesperson of the League of Filipino Students (LFS). Among those arrested were Anakbayan Secretary General Einstein Recedes and LFS Secretary General Mark Quinto.

After the arrests and beatings, Espiritu said the policemen and security guards destroyed the workers’ makeshift tents and confiscated their laptops, cellphones, bags containing cash and personal belongings.

Espiritu said at least 20 motorcycles and some bicycles owned by NutriAsia workers were also taken by policemen and security guards and brought inside the NutriAsia compound.

NutriAsia workers began their strike on June 2 after management dismissed 50 workers. The NurtiAsia workers are also demanding regularization.

Journalists hurt, arrested

Also apprehended were journalists covering the incident.

Rhea Padilla, national coordinator of Altermidya, said one of their volunteers, Hiyas Saturay sent her a message informing her that she and her colleagues Eric Tandoc, Avon Ang, Psalty Caluza were being taken by policemen.

A campus journalist, Jon Angelo Bonifacio of the Scientia publication of the College of Science of UP, was also arrested.

The five were among the 19 arrested and are currently detained at the Meycauayan Police Station.

Another journalist, Rosemarie Alcaraz of Radyo Natin Guimba, was hurt when NutriAsia security guards hit her with rattan sticks and pushed her away. While filming the dispersal, a policeman hit her camera, a Canon 70D.

“They knew that I’m a journalist. I’m wearing my ID,” Alcaraz told Bulatlat.

Kodao reporter Joseph Cuevas was also told by a company guard to stop filming or his camera would be destroyed.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemned the arrest of the five journalists, the attack on Alcaraz and threat against Cuevas.

“We denounce the security personnel of NutriAsia for deliberately targeting journalists and the Bulacan police not only for failing to prevent or stop this outrage from happening but, even worse, arresting five colleagues, making false claims about them, and then preventing other journalists from inquiring after them and covering their detention,” the NUJP in a statement said.

The group demanded the release of the five detained journalists by the Meycauayan police and forget plans of filing trumped up criminal charges against the journalists.

The NUJP likewise called on Philippine National Police Director General Oscar Albayalde to initiate an immediate investigation into this clear abuse of authority by his subordinates.

Kodao tried to interview NutriAsia guards after the dispersal and arrests but was refused. At the Meycauayan PNP station, the Kodao team was told to leave the precinct when it inquired about the arrested journalists. # (Len Olea/Bulatlat and Raymund B. Villanueva/Kodao)

On its 32nd anniversary: NUJP members attacked by Nutriasia guards July 30, 2018

(UPDATED) On its 32nd anniversary: NUJP members attacked by Nutriasia guards, arrested
July 30, 2018

As the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines marked the 32nd anniversary of our founding, a number of our members, including the deputy secretary general of our Nueva Ecija chapter, were attacked, threatened and arrested as they covered the violent dispersal of striking workers at the NutriAsia factory in Marilao, Bulacan Monday afternoon.

We denounce the security personnel of NutriAsia for deliberately targeting journalists and the Bulacan police not only for failing to prevent or stop this outrage from happening but, even worse, arresting five colleagues, making false claims about them, and then preventing other journalists from inquiring after them and covering their detention.

Nueva Ecija chapter deputy secretary general Rosemarie Alcaraz was covering the ecumenical service and the violence that followed it for Radyo Natin-Guimba. As she took video of the dispersal, a guard advised her to go behind them. However, when she complied, she was struck on her right thigh with a truncheon, driving her to seek shelter in a makeshift hut erected by the striking workers.

Joseph Cuevas, reporter of Kodao Productions, on the other hand, was confronted by guards who threatened to destroy his camera unless he stopped filming.

Both reporters were wearing identification cards that clearly marked them as journalists.

Meanwhile, colleagues on the ground have confirmed that among the 19 persons arrested during the dispersal and its aftermath were Hiyas Saturay, Eric Tandoc, Avon Ang and Psalty Caluza, who were on coverage for AlterMidya, and Jon Angelo Bonifacio of the UP Diliman publication Scientia.

Kodao and AlterMiday are NUJP affiliates.

When Jola Diones-Mamangun of Kodao Productions went to the Meycauayan police station, she was denied access to documents. And when she asked about her arrested AlterMidya colleagues, was told that drugs and guns had been recovered from them, an obviously false and ridiculous claim.

Other colleagues also quoted Meycauyan chief of police Superintendent Santos Mera of claiming they needed permits before they could cover events at the police station.

The assault, threats and arrests of our colleagues is a clear attack on press freedom and highlights the increasing dangers journalists face in these increasingly troubled times.

We demand that the Meycauayan police immediately release Saturay, Tandoc, Ang, Caluza and Bonifacio. We demand just as strongly that they forget the ludicrous notion of filing trumped up criminal charges against our colleagues. It will surely backfire – and very badly – on you.

We likewise call on Philippine National Police Director General Oscar Albayalde to initiate an immediate investigation into this clear abuse of authority by his subordinates, particularly Mera, and impose the necessary sanctions.

It would bode ill for our already imperiled democracy if the very people sworn to serve and protect the citizenry are themselves responsible for violating our basic rights and liberties and flouting the law.

We will extend all possible assistance to our beleaguered colleagues in making sure those responsible for this assault are held accountable.

Victims decry Arroyo’s ‘resurrection’ as House speaker

A day after former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo wrested the House of Representatives speakership in a controversial manner Monday, families of victims of human rights violations held a press conference and vowed to bring her to justice.

Under Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya counter-insurgency program, more than 1,600 were killed extrajudicially while 200 remain missing to this day.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said it was under Arroyo’s nine-year regime when the Philippines became the most dangerous country for journalists with more than 120 killed.

NUJP condemns media threats and killings at United People’s SONA 2018

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines condemns the continuing threats against journalists and the media killings two years into the Rodrigo Duterte presidency.

Speaking before the massive United People’s SONA protests, NUJP chairperson Nonoy Espina said that with the help of the Filipino people, they will defeat threats against press freedom.

Media groups reject media regulation

Media groups reject a proposal to regulate mass media through a so-called Magna Carta for journalists, as announced by a Malacañan official Friday.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) and the Philippine Press Institute (PPI) rejected outright the proposal of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) to regulate the profession “in the guise of a “Magna Carta.”

In reaction to a speech by PTFoMS executive director Joel Egco in Baguio City Friday, the groups said it was not the first time that such a measure is being proposed, which they have consistently opposed.

SunStar-Baguio reported Egco as saying the proposed measure would seek to professionalize journalism through qualifying and classifying exams.

“If you want to become a media personality, you will have to take an exam every six months to assess your qualification which would set either a managerial position or a corresponding salary level or grade equivalent to that of government,” Egco was quoted as saying.

Egco was addressing Northern Luzon journalists who attended a seminar on media safety protocols developed by the PTFoMS in light of the continuing threats against media workers.

He said that professionalizing the ranks of journalists by classifying them into three levels would lessen threats against them.

“With the qualifying exam, journalists can now be qualified as a level 1, 2 or 3, and depending on the vacant position to be applied, they can now for example apply for a reportorial position which is level 2 while obtaining a level 1 qualification,” Egco said.

Saying that while it does not question Egco’s intent, the NUJP, however, said the proposed “Magna Carta,” which goes so far as to set salary grades depending on “competency,” is fraught with danger.

The group added that the proposal would allow the government to determine who can or cannot be a journalist, which is totally anathema to a profession that can thrive only in independence.

The CEGP for its part said the proposed Magna Carta is a misguided attempt by President Rodrigo Duterte’s “politically erratic regime, known for its pseudo-journalists, trolls, fake news and manipulation of public opinion.”

The student journalists said that the Duterte government is in no position to dictate on the media since its own “biases and sensibilities are geared towards the creation of state-sponsored fake news that dumb down the toiling masses.”

A Philippine Press Institute officer, meanwhile, said on a social media post that their group has already rejected the so-called Magna Carta a long time ago.

“’Levelling’ has nothing to do with quality of journalism. We should [instead] care for the following: welfare and protection, ethical practice, and truth-telling,” PPI executive director Ariel Sabellino said.

The NUJP added it cannot allow government the opportunity to meddle in any way in the profession and urged journalists as well as media owners to unite in opposing what it called a clear threat to freedom of the press and of expression. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)