STOP HARASSING JOURNALISTS!

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines, the oldest, broadest, and only-existing alliance of campus publications in Southeast Asia, slammed the local government of Guimba, Nueva Ecija for harassing and threatening the field reporters of Radyo Natin Guimba (RNG), a local FM Radio Station of Radyo Natin and DZRH.

Here are the reports obtained by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines:

April - Police warned RNG staff handing out vitamins and fruit to senior citizens that they could be charged.

May 4 - Police accosted residents Ina Jo Colcol and Dexter Eusebio, who were taking photos and videos of townsfolk who ignored social distancing when they trooped to the office of the mayor and the Social Welfare Division for their Social Amelioration Program assistance. The two were brought to the police station and asked to delete the photos and videos they had taken.

May 11 - The municipal council approved Resolution No. 52 s.2020 authorizing Mayor Jose Dizon to file charges for supposed violation of the Bayanihan Heal as One Act (Republic Act 11469) against RNG. Before the session, Bonbon Dizon, councilor and son of the mayor, seized the press credentials of field reporter Lina Villafor and took pictures of these.

May 16 - At an emergency meeting of Guimba's Association of Barangay Captains, lawyer OJ Manuel Cornejo, acting provincial assessor, repeated the threat to sue RNG.

May 18 - Councilor Virgilio Fabro sent an RNG field reporter out of the session hall, claiming they were discussing a "sensitive" topic.

May 19 - Police accosted an RNG reporter covering the distribution of palay seeds by the agriculture department.

What happened to Radyo Natin Guimba is a clear manifestation of the dire fascist attacks against freedoms of the press and of expression perpetuated by the Duterte administration. This administration had never pretended to be a press freedom champion.

"As the state of press freedom in the Philippines has been on a general peril, the Duterte administration continues its suppression against the media by covering his gross negligence in handling the coronavirus pandemic," said CEGP national president Daryl Angelo Baybado.

Reporting the people's legitimate concerns is part of the media's imperative role in society. What the Radyo Natin Guimba did was not a crime, and in fact, a constitutionally guaranteed.

The Guild also expresses its grave concerns for the continuous red-tagging against journalists.

On May 13, Rowena Paraan, ABS-CBN’s Bayan Mo, Ipatrol Mo head and former NUJP chairperson, was accused of being a member of the New People's Army (NPA).

A seven-year-old photo was circulating online when a certain Aram dela Cruz linked Paraan and other journalists as wounded NPA. NUJP clarified that the photo was taken from a safety training for fellow journalists in Cagayan de Oro City on March 16-17, 2013.

"Government agencies must be reminded that when journalists are harassed or intimidated, it is always tantamount to direct attack on our democracy. Harassing journalists for merely doing their jobs must not be allowed to persist in any country," he added.

The Guild stands with Radyo Natin Guimba and Rowena Paraan. We challenge the Duterte administration particularly the local government of Guimba, Nueva Ecija to uphold free press as an essential pillar of our democracy and to create a society in which independent journalists can perform without fear.

#DefendPressFreedom

The oldest, broadest, and only-existing intercollegiate alliance of student publications in the Asia-Pacific | Est. 1931 #DefendPressFreedom #EndStateFascism

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