On the 31st World Press Freedom Day: Media records 135 attacks under the Marcos regime

This article is available in Pilipino

Six incidents per month or a total of 135 incidents of media attacks were recorded under the Marcos regime from July 2022 to April 2024. This is according to a report released by journalist groups in time with the annual World Press Freedom Day every May 3.

According to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, and other organizations, this is higher than the first 22 months of the former Duterte regime. Among the attacks are 75 cases of intimidation (of which there were 45 incidents of red-tagging and 19 cases of surveillance), 14 cases of assault and harassment, and three extrajudicial killings.

Libel and cyber libel continue to be used to suppress journalists in the country. Eight journalists were charged with cyberlibel during this time. Five of them were arrested. State agents carried 50 out of all assault cases. The most cases were recorded in Metro Manila (82), followed by Eastern Visayas (16) and Bicol (8).

The groups denounced the Marcos regime’s lack of significant steps to stop attacks against journalists in the country. The report also noted that journalists have long been labeled “enemies of the state” in previous administrations.

In the annual World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the Philippines dropped two places to 134th out of 180 countries worldwide. This report measures the state of press freedom in the countries and territories.

To mark World Press Freedom Day, protest actions were held by campus journalists at the University of the Philippines (UP)-Diliman, and by journalist organizations at the Boy Scout Monument in Quezon City on May 3.

In the action in UP-Diliman, students and journalists condemned the killings and continuing cases of violations of the right to press freedom in the country. They also discussed the state of media freedom controlled by big business and powerful political families.

They said this state of the media will be aggravated by the charter change currently being railroaded by the Marcos regime that will allow foreign ownership of the sector.

In the protest at the Boy Scout Circle, journalists from different parts of the country held a candle-lighting activity. They specifically called for the release of imprisoned political journalist Frenchie Mae Cumpio and justice for the killing of Gerry Ortega.

Ortega better known as Doc Gerry or Ka Gerry was extrajudicially killed on January 24, 2011 because of his fight against monstrous and destructive mining and the corruption under the then governor of Palawan, Joel Reyes.

Cumpio is a journalist of Eastern Vista, the alternative media in the Eastern Visayas region. She was illegally arrested, along with four others, on February 7, 2020 at their office in Tacloban City. They were charged with a fabricated case of illegal possession of firearms. More than a year later, they were charged with “terrorism financing.”

AB: Media records 135 attacks under the Marcos regime