(A statement read during the trooping to the Hall of Justice in support of colleague Alexander “Lex” Adonis who was jailed for libel)
May 2, 2008 (Eve of World Press Freedom Day)
We gather at the Hall of Justice today, May 2, the eve of World Press Freedom Day, in show of support to colleague Alexander “Lex” Adonis who was jailed for libel.
As we seek the courts to look again into the facts of the case that has already caused so much undue suffering to our colleague, we call to mind the plight of many others who have yet to be served justice.
A lot more cases of murdered journalists remain unsolved, one of the recent cases involve that of our colleague in Davao, Fernando “Batman” Lintuan.
We lament that even as the working conditions of journalists are not getting any better – in fact, many of us still receive as much as the city’s street sweepers – the perils of the job remain.
The killings of journalists continue. Add to these laws that make conditions for journalists even worse, one of which is criminal libel, which not only hampers media practitioners from reporting critical stories of public interest but also tends to intimidate the press.
In Davao City alone, a lot of media practitioners are threatened with libel cases filed mostly by government officials who are the subjects of their reportage. This only shows how the libel law in the country could be used as a tool to suppress information and truths that the public must know as a matter of right.
A cowed press is the last thing we need in a situation where corruption and other forms of abuse of authority have become rampant among the powers-that-be as the poverty experienced by masses of people in the country worsens.
These are times when it becomes even more compelling for the press to be empowered so that they are better able to carry out their duties to democracy.
Until this country is unsafe for journalists and until conditions that threaten freedom of expression prevail, we can never have the kind of democracy needed to bring about better times for our people.
We enjoin our colleagues to fight for press freedom. We call for the people to fight for the right to a free press!
Carmelito Q. Francisco
Chair, NUJP Davao
Mobile # 09184415074
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