A year ago today, our colleague, community journalist Frenchie Mae Cumpio of Leyte’s Eastern Vista, was arrested along with four human rights activists in simultaneous police raids.
In a travesty that has become all too familiar, the authorities trumpeted the capture of what they claimed to be ranking communist rebels and the seizure of the firearms and explosives they supposedly kept in the places where they lived. They remain detained as they face trial for what are obviously fabricated charges based on planted evidence.
The ordeal of Frenchie Mae is part of the increasing persecution of the critical media by the forces of a government so intolerant of criticism and dissent that the mere exercise of democratic rights is enough for one to be branded an “enemy of the state.”
Although the odds may appear to be stacked against Frenchie Mae and others in similar straits, we take heart in the fact that, as we have witnessed in the dismissal of a similarly fabricated case against another colleague, Lady Ann Salem of Manila Today, there are judges who are serious in discharging their duty of dispensing justice.
Journalism is not and can never be a crime. This is why the agents of the state resort to falsehoods and fabricated evidence in their efforts to silence the truth-tellers.
We thus call to the court to correct this injustice and free Frenchie Mae.
(Photo credit: Altermidya)