Journalist groups decry media killings, attacks on press freedom in SONA protest

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines chairperson Nonoy Espina addressed the crowd at the United People's SONA. Photo by Erika Cruz.

Journalists were also among the thousands who marched along Commonwealth Avenue yesterday for the United People’s SONA as they slammed the spate of killings of journalists and President Rodrigo Duterte’s attacks on the media.

“Mula noon, 12 na sa hanay namin ang napapatay,” National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) Chair Nonoy Espina told the crowd during the protest.

Espina claimed that this number is the largest number of journalist killings within the first two years of any president’s term; he cited the recent killing of radio announcer Joey Llana, who was gunned down on his way to Legazpi last Friday, July 20.

He also decried Duterte’s threats on media companies such as online news site Rappler and broadcasting giant ABS-CBN, Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto III’s takedown of Inquirer’s articles on Pepsi Paloma, and the continuing proliferation of fake news and disinformation.

Campus press under attack

Echoing Espina’s sentiments, College Editors Guild of the Philippines National President (CEGP) Jose Mari Callueng also decried attacks on campus journalists.

“The campus press is also under attack and some student publications are under surveillance both by the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” (AFP) Callueng said in a statement.

September last year, CEGP decried the red-tagging of their member publications in Camarines Sur after they reported that they were under the watch list of the AFP as part of the Duterte administration’s so-called counterinsurgency operations.

Chapters in other regions and provinces also reported similar incidents.

CEGP is also set to file reports of campus press freedom violations to the Commission on Higher Education tomorrow, July 25, in commemoration of CEGP’s 86th founding anniversary.

From 127th place in 2017, the Philippines also went down six spots to 133rd in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index of media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

In RSF’s 2017 year-end report, they declared the Philippines as the deadliest country for journalists in Asia and was included in the top five dangerous countries for journalists together with Mexico, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

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