THE National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) calls for the dismissal of rebellion charges against Northern Dispatch's Ilocos correspondent Niño Joseph Oconer.

Oconer and six other activists and development workers have been implicated by the military in an alleged ambush staged by the New People's Army on October 27, 2022. A local court in Abra issued a warrant of arrest against the said individuals, resulting in the arrest of one indigenous peoples advocate in Baguio last week.

The NUJP deems this incident as the latest in a series of judicial harassment and other forms of attacks against community media outlet Northern Dispatch. Its editor Kimberlie Ngabit-Quitasol and staff writer Khim Abalos were earlier slapped with cyber libel; Sherwin de Vera, then correspondent in Ilocos, was also slapped with a rebellion case. All these previous charges were subsequently junked by the local courts for lack of merit.

One its former correspondent based in Ifugao, Brandon Lee, was also targeted by suspected state agents on August 6, 2019. Fortunately, he survived the assassination attempt.

Northern Dispatch editors and staff were also repeatedly red-tagged by state agents. Its website was also subjected to massive distributed denial of service (DDOS) in 2019.

These persistent attacks not only violate the media outfit's right to exercise press freedom but also violate the marginalized communities' rights to communication and access to information. For more than three decades, Northern Dispatch has brought to the fore the struggles of indigenous peoples, farmers, workers and urban poor in the Cordillera and Ilocos regions.

The NUJP calls on our colleagues to stand in solidarity with Northern Dispatch and other community media outfits, and resist all attempts to intimidate and silence us. (National Union of Journalists of the Philippines)