By National Union of Journalists of the Philippines Cebu Chapter
Cebu journalists met with United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on free expression and opinion Irene Khan to raise specific issues related to violations of the free press in the province.
As it stands now, the press freedom situation in the Philippines is worsened by systematic attempts to undermine the integrity and plurality of the media, coupled with violent attacks against journalists.
In Cebu, many of our fellow members of the press are subjected to public humiliation for asking inconvenient questions and publishing critical stories, the weaponization of libel, intimidation, and protocols that restrict access to information.
Our colleagues have also suffered psychological toll from such attacks, with some leaving the profession because of the trauma they experienced.
The ongoing struggle of journalists in the region against silencers of free speech and expression is a battle that requires resolve and solidarity.
Thus, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) Cebu is grateful for opportunities like this engagement with Special Rapporteur Irene Khan to have our issues heard and, hopefully, addressed.
During the discussion, we have made the following recommendations:
• Decriminalize libel;
• Junk policies which restrict freedom of information and the passage of a freedom of information statute;
• For government officials to stop public shaming of media;
• To put an end to the practice of red-tagging; and
• Genuine, impartial, and speedy investigations on attacks against media.
We give our deepest appreciation to members of human rights organizations, non-government organizations, and esteemed individuals like UN Special Rapporteur Irene Khan who make the effort to listen to these voices and join the search for effective and sustainable solutions to our country’s press freedom issues.
We trust that Special Rapporteur Irene Khan will consider our input in her report and we hope that the Philippine government, as a responsible member of the international community, heeds her coming recommendations.
As always, we will continue our #FightToExpress and #DefendPressFreedom.