The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) has weathered a storm alongside colleagues in the profession but we still face rough seas ahead, if not rougher.
The systematic red-tagging of the NUJP, media outlets, and journalists has intensified in the past five years, endangering the lives of members of the press toiling hard to keep the people informed. Aside from being branded as enemies of the state, journalists have reported receiving threats telling them to stop being critical of government or be silenced.
This amid other attacks on press freedom including threats of closure and other forms of harassment that our colleagues from Rappler, ABS-CBN, and alternative media outfits have faced under the Duterte administration.
During its 11th Congress and Safety Conference held through blended platforms on March 20-21, 2021, the NUJP passed a resolution condemning the red-tagging of journalists and the threats that it brings. The plenary, attended by nearly a hundred members from 30 chapters and formations nationwide and overseas, overwhelmingly approved the declaration compelling the organization to hold legally accountable those behind the red-tagging of media workers.
The arrest last year of Manila Today editor and now NUJP director Lady Ann Salem, declared invalid by a Mandaluyong court for being an irregular search operation, the current detention of Eastern Vista executive director Frenchie Mae Cumpio in Tacloban City, and the killings of 19 journalists under the Duterte administration prove that these are not idle threats.
The NUJP, under its new leadership, strongly condemns the red-tagging of its members, colleagues, and of the organization itself. The Union vows to step up its campaign against such malicious efforts, and hold responsible those behind these systematic attacks against us.
The NUJP also rejects the assertion that featuring underreported issues and communities and questioning the government narrative makes a journalist anyone’s enemy, and certainly not an enemy of the people.
The recently-concluded Congress is testament to the tenacity and strength of Filipino journalists amid the escalating repression. The composition of its new directorate is a show of stronger unity, and a clear message that we will continue truth-telling in the face of lies peddled by the enemies of press freedom.
The NUJP’s new executive committee is composed of Jonathan de Santos (Philstar.com) and Kath M. Cortez (Davao Today) as chairperson and vice chairperson. Len Olea of Bulatlat.com is secretary-general and Anjo Bagaoisan of the ABS-CBN chapter is deputy secretary-general. Jhoanna Ballaran (Jiji Press) is treasurer while Marchel Espina (Rappler/Digicast Negros) is auditor.
Serving as directors are Judith Suarez (Sure FM Tandag Surigao del Sur), Lady Ann Salem (Manila Today), Voltaire Tupaz (FYT Media), Red Magtoto (Baretang Bikolnon), Jairo Bolledo (Rappler), Ricky Bautista (Samar Weekly Express), Macel Ingles (ABS-CBN Global), Glenn Lopez Uy (Mindanao Goldstar Daily) and Lian Buan (Rappler).
As we write a new chapter of the Union’s history, we call on all journalists to stand up for each other in the face of these threats and be in the service of the Filipino people. A free and independent press is a foundation of a true democratic society and protects the public’s right to be informed and right to express themselves. While we may have differences in editorial policies, we emphasize that journalism is not a crime nor an invitation for attack and harassment and we cannot allow it to be so.