Pooled editorial | Community journalism is not a crime: Stop disinformation on Negros 57, free Anne Krueger!

Today, Nov. 2, is the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, and the Altermidya Network calls on the Duterte administration to immediately release Negros-based community journalist Anne Krueger, who was unlawfully arrested with 56 others in simultaneous raids on various offices in Bacolod City last October 31.

That Krueger was supposedly taking part in a military training of the New People’s Army in the regional office of the women’s group Gabriela is nothing short of ludicrous.

A live video broadcast on Facebook by Krueger minutes before her arrest clearly shows that evidence was being planted by the authorities who conducted the raid.

Major General Antonio Parlade, Jr., spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, is also peddling outright lies when he named Krueger as “Deputy Secretary for Cultural/Propaganda and Deputy Secretary for Social Media” of a supposed regional committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

First of all, being arrested for doing “social media” work is clearly a violation of the constitutional right to freedom of expression and of the press.

Secondly, the military always red-tags journalists and other activists they want to silence. Krueger is not a combatant and is in fact a community journalist and one of the founders of Paghimutad, an alternative media group covering the Island of Negros.

Paghimutad was formed after the Sagay 9 massacre in response to the growing human rights violations in the island. Despite the culture of fear in Negros, Paghimutad and its volunteer community journalists courageously filled the void of information, publishing audio-visual reports through social media.

During Altermidya’s Third National Congress held in Quezon City last September, Paghimutad, represented by Krueger herself, was recognized as a new member of the network, which currently comprises more than 30 independent and community-based media outfits all over the country.

Krueger is also an organizer for the BPO Industry Employees Network, assisting and helping call center workers in their campaign and legal battle against mandatory overtime.

We enjoin the public to join us in exposing the lies being heaped upon the Negros 57, including Krueger. Many of those arrested are known leaders of mass organizations and have been vital sources of information for the media, such as John Milton Lozande, secretary general of the National Federation of Sugar Workers.

Also included in the mass arrests are more than 20 bus workers who were consulting with the regional labor center of Kilusang Mayo Uno when the raids happened.

We call on our colleagues in the media to get at the truth behind these arrests. Local authorities must provide the media and other human rights defenders access to the detainees, who have a right to be heard.

Right now, we are mostly hearing the voices of those who have monopoly of power, ignoring facts and the rule of law as they please. Let us not let disinformation prevail. If we allow such mass arrests to go unquestioned in Negros, we are in fact allowing it to go unquestioned anywhere in the country today.

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