By ALYSSA MAE CLARIN
MANILA — A month before the elections, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) relaunched on April 13 its Media Safety Office as attacks against the Philippine press persist.
NUJP chairperson Jonathan de Santos said journalists have been continuously barred from covering the election, and are even put under immense pressure over their reports.
Also, since October last year alone, the NUJP documented at least three journalist killings.
“This makes the relaunch of NUJP’s Safety Office very timely,” he said.
The recent case was a broadcaster in Lanao del Norte, Audrey Estrada, who was found dead in her house last March. She sustained 15 stab wounds. Last December, Pampanga-based journalist Jesus “Jess” Malabanan was shot by unidentified gunmen while inside their store in Calbayog City, Samar.
Through its reactivated Safety Office, the NUJP can better monitor, document, and respond to the different forms of violations to press freedom.
“The increased capacity of the Safety Office will mean quicker and closer monitoring of these attacks against our colleagues,” said De Santos.
NUJP also introduced three new safety officers for the major island groups in the Philippines.
Raymund Villanueva, a veteran journalist, and former NUJP deputy secretary-general, will be handling Luzon; Michael Jay Advincula, member of Cebu-based alternative media outfit Aninaw Productions will be handling the Visayas region; while Kath Cortez, NUJP’s current vice-chairperson and Davao Today journalist, will be covering Mindanao.
The reactivation of the Safety Office is made possible with the support of the German Embassy in Manila.
Rappler reporter red-tagged
Meanwhile, on the same day of the launch, Rappler reporter, also one of NUJP directors, Lian Buan, was red-tagged online. A Kpop Twitter user (@shiningtwicexo) accused Buan of being a ranking official of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, and the New People’s Army.
The said Twitter account also alleged that the journalist group is a front organization of the CPP, the NDFP, and the NPA.
This, the NUJP said, “even when from a KPop fan account, have implications on her safety, especially while covering the election campaign.”
Editor’s note: Journalists can reach the safety officers using these numbers:
Luzon – +639666404631
Visayas – +639120921366
Mindanao – +639150559425