Press freedom under attack! Campus journalists harassed by military

PRESS RELEASE
March 3, 2012

Press freedom under attack!
Campus journalists harassed by military

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) called for a press conference for the recent military harassment of campus journalists. The panelists testified they are being followed by elements of the armed forces for them to be intimidated and violate their humanitarian rights.

“There is no doubt the Aquino government is desperate to silence the alternative media, even young journalists and the youth, who exposes his anti-people policies and his own incompetency,” said Pauline Gidget Estella, National Deputy Secretary General of CEGP and also one of the panelists. “With these government tactics, he only proves that there is nothing straight in his promised straight-ward path. Only a bloody misleading road which will send the Filipinos to their downfall,” she added.

Estella, together with three other student journalists namely Angelo Karl Doceo and Micah Susana Rubenecia, both officers of CEGP Samar Island, and The Pillar (University of Eastern Philippines) writer Darrel Tibre at 8PM of Feb 26, were bound to return to the training center where the Samar-wide convention was held. While waiting for a ride in Catarman terminal, a suspicious man wearing camouflage pants approached the group, asking their destination. After the group answered promptly, they immediately left and during the course, they were followed by men in scooters and tricycles. The group then hid in a safe residential place. Estella and the group waited until next morning then left to assist Estella, accompanied by members of National Union of Journalists of the Philippines and other individuals, to the airport bound to Manila.

Meanwhile, 12MN to 1AM on the same date in Laguna, two men in a motorcycle were asking to the bystanders the residence of Ma. Luisa “Issa” Purugganan, an associate editor of The Warden (Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Muntinlupa). Later, at 2PM to 3PM, the two men returned asking different set of bystanders if Purugganan when will Purugganan return home. The bystanders answered, and when they asked what’s their relation to Purugganan, the two unknown men answered they’re friends.
After Purugannan learned what happened, while she’s discussing the incident to her mother, a motorcycle went pass by their residence. Their residence is located in the dead-end of the street.

“These incidents are programmed in Aquino’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan. Instead of addressing people’s issues and their urgent demands, the government itself serves as terrorist to its people by using the armed forces to gag progressive groups and the alternative media who urge these demands” explained Romina Raiselle Astudillo, CEGP-NCR Chairperson. “We expect worse these coming months from Aquino, especially when the Balikatan exercises commenced here in Metro Manila. Nonetheless, CEGP will never heed to be critical, pro-people, and anti-corrupt,” she ended.

This coming April, 2,400 US troops will be deployed here in the country under the Visiting Forces Agreement signed by Estrada in 1999. In addition to the AFP and the 600 remaining US troops in the country, the Balikatan military exercises will be held in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and Mindanao.

merdian.sofia@mailxu.com