Campus journalists call for genuine press freedom

REFERENCE:

Marc Lino Abila

National Deputy Secretary General

College Editors Guild of the Philippines

 

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), the oldest and broadest alliance of tertiary student publications in the Philippines and Asia-Pacific region, marks the day to intensify the campaign against the worsening condition of press freedom under the Aquino administration.

“CEGP marks the day to intensify the campaign against the worsening condition of press freedom under the Aquino administration,” said Marc Lino Abila, National Deputy Secretary General of CEGP.

“The blatant impunity in cases regarding violence against the press, the continuing media killings and harassments, and the insufficient legislation to ensure freedom of expression and information all serve to identify the country as the third most dangerous country in the world for journalists,” Abila explained.

The 2013 Impunity Index recently released by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) places the Philippines third behind Iraq and Somalia with 71 murdered journalists from 1992 up to the present, and 65 of these killings dubbed as cases with impunity.

The Maguindanao Massacre and the Doc Gerry Ortega murder pose as powerful cases to illustrate that media violence lies largely within politics. CPJ statistics show that 62 percent of journalists killed in the Philippines were on political beat at the time of their murder.

“Despite Noynoy’s promise to uphold press freedom, to date, both aforementioned cases have been unnecessarily stalled since 2009 and 2011, respectively, in trials, with key witnesses murdered or disappeared,” Abila said.

“Aquino’s further negligence is reflected in gaping inefficiencies in legislation,” Abila furthered. “The Cybercrime Law, hastily drafted and signed into law, enables government officials to carry out prison terms to individuals and shut down websites upon discretion.”

“In stark contrast, the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill has yet to be passed into law 16 years after its introduction to the House of Representatives,” Abila said. “A Malacañang version of FOI poses more restrictions than privileges, rendering the bill corrupted of its original intent of providing the Filipino people a right to information regarding all matters of public concern.”

“This hostile and repressive environment extends to campus journalists in the country,” Abila said. “CEGP continues to battle several campus press freedom violations, including withholding of funds in The Catalyst (PUP), a libel charge in UPB Outcrop (UP Baguio), military harassment in The Pillars (University of Eastern Philippines), and administrative intervention in the EARIST Technozette (EARIST).”

“CEGP moves as a nationwide alliance in solidarity with journalists and press freedom advocates all over the world in its call for justice for offenses to the media community and for genuine and decisive efforts to sustain the freedom of expression and the right to information,” Abila ended. ###

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