|The Environmental Defenders Congress joins today’s commemoration of World Press Freedom Day and supports journalists and advocates nationwide in their efforts to defend press freedom in the Philippines. Under the Marcos Jr. administration, the fight to defend the rights of journalists goes on as they continue to face threats from those in power.|
We environmental defenders laud the work of our journalists and media workers, who risk their careers and lives to document and bring to light environmental issues across the Philippines. Both alternative and mainstream media have been crucial in raising awareness about the state of the Philippine environment and those defending it.
As such, we see the importance of the work of journalists in our broader work for the protection of people and planet.
Despite the amazing work they do, journalists and media practitioners who understand the value of critical reporting in our country are often placed in the crosshairs of business interests and state forces.
In the past years, we have seen the extent to which journalists are attacked — including journalists working to expose ecologically-damaging projects. Gerry Ortega is an emblematic example, a veteran journalist and environmental advocate who was assassinated in 2011 for his advocacies.
Until today, mastermind and former Palawan governor Joel Reyes has not been brought to justice. The continued detention of Frenchie Mae Cumpio, a journalist from the alternative media outlet Eastern Vista who covered land defender issues, is another example of the reality faced by media practitioners on the frontlines.
With the entry of the Marcos Jr. administration, one of the first documented killings was that of broadcaster Percy Lapid, who was critical of Marcos Jr. and his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte.Both mainstream and alternative media have also seen reprisals from the state, from the blocking of the websites of news outfits such as Bulatlat to the shutdown of ABS-CBN and the persecution of Rappler under the Duterte administration.
All of these different kinds of attacks, from the local to the national level, have undermined the capacity of journalists to shine a spotlight on pressing issues facing our country.
We environmental defenders join the chorus of press freedom advocates today in the fight for a safer and more liberating environment for media practitioners here in our country.
We condemn the continued harassment of media outfits and their workers, particularly those attacks affecting alternative media outlets that are often the first to report on critical environmental issues at the local level.
In the face of all the challenges, let us continue to fight!
Kalikasan PNE via ActionNetwork.org