Media groups demand release of detained journalist

Published December 12, 2020, 12:09 PM

by Gabriela Baron

Various media groups and institutions demanded the release of journalist Lady Ann “Icy” Salem, who was arrested in her home in Mandaluyong Thursday (December 10), the commemoration of Human Rights Day.

Manila Today editor Lady Ann Salem (Photo courtesy of AlterMidya)

Salem is an editor of alternative media Manila Today and a member of Tudla Productions.  Both are among the members of AlterMidya Network.

Salem’s arrest came nine days after the entire network of AlterMidya was alleged as members of the Communist Party of the Philippines “propaganda machinery” by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Artmed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) executive director Allen Capuyan during the December 1 senate hearing of the Committee on National Defense and Security, Peace, Unification, and Reconciliation.

Aside from Salem, authorities also arrested six other persons for alleged possession of illegal firearms and explosives.

The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) said four. .45 pistols, four grenades, and various ammunitions were seized from the house of Salem by virtue of a search warrant issued by Judge Cecily Burgos-Villavert, executive judge of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 89. 

In a statement, the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (UP CMC) called for the immediate release of Salem.

“We rage against red-tagging in the same way that we worry about one of our own. We cannot stay silent as blatant human rights violations hit closer and closer to home, on the very day that we are supposed to commemorate International Human Rights Day,” UP CMC said.

“As we call for the immediate release of Icy, let us not forget those whose rights have been violated the very day that we are supposed to commemorate their existence,” the institution added.

Salem is an alumna of UP CMC.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) likewise demanded Salem’s release. 

“We call on the community of independent Filipino journalists to close ranks and demand a stop to the repression of the media,” the union said.

“We will hold accountable anyone who subjects Icy to abuse and violation of her rights,” NUJP added.

“Si Salem ay taos-pusong lumalaban sa pagtataguyod ng malayang pamamahayag at adhikaing imulat ang mamayang Pilipino na makikita sa kanyang dedikasyon, integridad at pagmamahal para sa bayan (Salem whole-heartedly fights for a free press and strives to educate Filipinos that is reflected in her dedication, integrity, and love for the country),” CEGP said.

Harassment of journalists

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) likewise weighed in on the Salem case and said the “ongoing harassment of journalists” in the Philippines is the “tactic of choice used by the powers that be to try to shut down, intimidate, and silence journalists.”

“But the media community have not and will not be deterred by such blunt and arcane attempts. The IFJ condemns the climate of intimidation that makes a mockery of the state and system by the use of these tactics which are completely unacceptable by global standards,” the IFJ said in its statement. 

AlterMidya called Salem’s arrest a “clear attempt to silence critical journalists.”