(Photo courtesy of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines)

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) pays tribute to its longtime member and press freedom advocate Richard Gappi who passed away July 16 due to acute respiratory failure.

Gappi served as editor of Angono Rizal News and helped establish the NUJP Rizal chapter years ago.

As part of the Neo Angono Artists Collective, Gappi was the main researcher behind the mural on the history of  press freedom. The mural, commissioned by the National Press Club in 2007, was defaced, prompting Gappi and his colleagues to condemn the blatant censorship. The original mural depicted the long struggle of Filipinos for press freedom, dating back to Spanish colonialism up to the contemporary years during the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration.

Also known as a great poet, Gappi also used his poetry in defense of press freedom. He wrote this poem after the passage of Cybercrime Prevention Act, which criminalizes cyber libel:

Oda sa Korte Suprema

Lapis sa papel, binali;

humiwa sa dila’t labi.

FOI* ang hinihingi;

Cybercrime Law ang sinukli.

*FOI – Freedom of Information

The NUJP honors his memory as we vow to continue pushing for the decriminalization of libel, and defending independent media. #