By ALYSSA MAE CLARIN
MANILA— The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) denounced the latest attacks on journalists, saying that the pandemic has failed to slow the efforts of silencing the media.
On the evening of September 14, Jobert “Polpog” Bercasio, a journalist for an online news page, was gunned down by two men riding a motorcycle. Bercasio’s case, if proven to be related to his work as a media practitioner, would be the 17th journalist killed during the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Bercasio was described as a ‘hard-hitting’ commentator who tackled, among other issues, the alleged illegal logging in Sorsogon City.
An hour before Bercasio died, he was posting about trucks irregularly traveling from a “quarry area” in Bulan town.
On the same day in Iloilo, Daily Guardian Executive Editor Francis Allan Angelo was threatened by a former city councilor.
Angelo had reportedly received a private message from Plaridel Nava, a former Iloilo City councilor and a disbarred lawyer, threatening to beat him up “when he sees him” for publishing a news article about the Supreme Court decision disbarring Nava for conflict of interest and gross immorality.
Nava had also accused Angelo of not getting his side of the issue before the article was published.
In Camarines Norte, meanwhile, a radioman was arrested while hosting his program.
Rommel Ibasco Feniz, a production manager in dzAU-AM, was served an arrest order on September 15 while he was hosting his radio program in Daet, Camarines Norte.
The arrest order, issued by the Regional Trial Court Judge Winston Racoma, was handed to him during his “Fenix Files” program, which was being broadcasted live through the station’s Facebook page.
The warrant was issued for three counts of libel against Fenix, as well as four other journalists—Jun “Bagwis” Avila, Nolito Banaria, Irene Cambronero and Bernie Patiag, filed by two provincial board members, and a separate charge of libel and violation of the Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009 filed by Governor Edgardo Tallado.
According to Fenix, the charges were revived after being provisionally dismissed earlier.
“The impunity with which journalists continue to be attacked and killed is the same impunity that drives the continued killings in the government’s war on drugs and the continued assassination of activists and human rights defenders,” said NUJP.