“Surveillance and types of harassment on journalists have no place in a democratic state like the Philippines that has also enshrined freedom of expression and press freedom in its Constitution.“
By SHEERAH ESCUDERO
MANILA – An international group of women journalists condemned the arrest of Tacloban-based journalist Frenchie Mae Cumpio.
In a statement, the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) called for the immediate release of Cumpio, an active member of IAWRT-Philippine chapter and executive director of Eastern Vista.
Cumpio, along with four other human rights defender, was arrested Feb. 7 in their offices in Tacloban City. The Army’s 8th Infantry Division claimed that Cumpio and others are members of “communist terrorist group.”
“Surveillance and types of harassment on journalists have no place in a democratic state like the Philippines that has also enshrined freedom of expression and press freedom in its Constitution,” IAWRT said.
IAWRT is a global network of 14 national chapters and members in 54 countries. It has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
The IAWRT said Cumpio has participated in its investigative training program, global secretariat launch and the Philippines’ chapter general assembly. Cumpio’s team also reported on Radyo Tacloban, IAWRT’s own mobile disaster community radio project in Eastern Visayas.
Days before the incident, Eastern Vista raised an alert on incidents of surveillance on Cumpio. Eastern Vista believes that the intimidation and death threats are related to their human rights reporting.
Moreover, IAWRT called on the Philippine government to uphold the democratic rights and principles of the country.
“The government must also address and resolve cases of harassment, violence and killings against journalists in their country,” IAWRT added.