Negros alternative media outlet, Paghimutad Negros, shed light on the persistent attacks against community journalists during a meeting with Irene Khan, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom on Opinion and Expression, on Monday, January 29, at the University of the Philippines-Cebu.
Khan arrived in the Philippines on January 22 and will stay until February 2 for an official visit to assess the country's adherence to the UN Declaration on Human Rights and other international human rights instruments on freedom of opinion and expression.
Paghimutad, which is a local affiliate of AlterMidya, called for accountability from state agencies following multiple incidents of endangerment, including an illegal arrest, red-tagging, and profiling of journalists in Negros.
Anne Krueger, a founding correspondent of Paghimutad, recounted her illegal arrest during the crackdown in Bacolod City on October 31, 2019. Krueger, currently on bail, expressed concerns about the potential usage of the Anti-Terror Law to add to her pending cases, citing the case of Tacloban-based community journalist Frenchie Mae Cumpio.
Since Krueger's arrest, continuous attacks on Paghimutad and other Negros alternative media outfits have been reported.
Last October 2022, the Facebook page of the 303rd Brigade of the Philippine Army red-tagged Paghimutad, dismissing one of their reports as propaganda and lies attributed to the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. This specific report detailed the 94th IB’s assault on seven farmers in Himamaylan City.
This red-tagging post was also shared on various police and military platforms, including the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (Region VI), a regional arm of the NTF-ELCAC (National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict).
Paghimutad also reported there have been concerted efforts to silence the progressive peasant radio program, “Kaling Kag Tugda,” which is also part of the AlterMidya Network, as part of a broader effort by the NTF-ELCAC to blacklist progressive programs in Western Visayas and keep them off air.
One Negros journalist reported he was profiled by a state intelligence agent and another stated she was tailed by individuals on a motorcycle after a meeting with fellow journalists.
Paghimutad states these targeted attacks on their organization and other progressive outfits in Negros aim to conceal from the public human rights violations perpetrated by state elements themselves.
“The people have the right to know, that’s why despite such threats, we persist,” they said in their report to Ms. Irene Khan.
They submitted the following recommendations in light of these threats:
• To investigate and hold accountable government and military entities that vilify, endanger, and red-tag progressive outfits and individual journalists.
• To junk Executive Order 70, or the whole-of-nation approach to counterinsurgency, which led to the creation of NTF-ELCAC.
• To junk Memorandum Order 32, which resulted in the disproportionate deployment of police and military forces in the province under the guise of “counterinsurgency.”
• To abolish the NTF-ELCAC.
• To repeal the Anti-Terrorism Act. (PR)