“Takot at galit (fear and anger).”
This is the common sentiment of most journalists since television network ABS-CBN Corporation was shut down a little more than a year ago, said Jonathan De Santos, chairperson of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).
“What happened to ABS-CBN was a message to us also,” De Santos lamented.
During the Commission on Human Rights’ (CHR) radio program “Tanggol Karapatan” hosted by Radyo Veritas last Saturday, May 8, De Santos said that since the shutdown of ABS-CBN, members of the media have expressed “fear and anger” over the loss of thousands of jobs amidst the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
De Santos said that while the production of news still continues, media personnel are worried that they may receive calls or complaints and they fear that something bad might happen to them.
Published reports stated that four journalists were killed last year.
“Hindi natin masasabi na walang alinlangan ang pagbabalita sa ngayon, (We cannot say that there is no doubt in delivering the news these days),” he said.
Journalists are enraged over what happened to the employees of ABS-CBN, answered De Santos when asked by program host CHR Commissioner Gwen Pimental-Gana.
Last May 3 during the observance of the World Press Freedom Day, the CHR said that Filipino journalists deserve to exercise their profession without any fear of violence, intimidation, and harassment.
“Journalists give voice to the voiceless, poor, and marginalized. No time is better than now to support them in their fight for truth and justice,” the CHR stressed.
Through Spokesperson Jacqueline Ann De Guia, the CHR paid tribute to the important role of journalists particularly amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
De Guia said that because of the untiring efforts of the members of the Philippine press, the public is kept abreast with the most factual and relevant information, on top of holding those in power to account.
But De Guia, a lawyer, lamented that because of the current political climate, journalists face a lot of risks in the performance of their profession.
“Thus, it is concerning that for four consecutive years the Philippines has consistently dropped in the World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF),” she said.
“This drop in ranking coincides with the recent results released by the Social Weather Stations survey which finds six in ten Filipinos agree that it is ‘dangerous to print or broadcast anything critical’ of the current administration ‘even if it is the truth,'” she bewailed.