Statement on the death of Press Secretary Cerge Remonde

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condoles with the family, friends and colleagues of the late Press Secretary Cerge Remonde, who died this morning at 51.

Cerge rose from the ranks as a Cebu broadcaster to become national chairman of the Kapisanan ng mga Broadcaster sa Pilipinas (KBP) for six terms.
Even after he joined government service, Cerge retained the respect of former colleagues and continued to be friendly and open with the media.

The NUJP may have differed with Cerge on many issues including government’s response and action, or lack of the same, on the unabated killings of journalists in the country.
But he remained a friend and did not fail to express his solidarity with the Philippine press.
When NUJP officers and members of the International Solidarity Mission who came in response to the Ampatuan massacre met with Cerge on December 9, 2009 in Malacañang, he expressed his grief for the journalists slaughtered in the massacre and vowed to help find justice for the victims and to help the victims’ families.

Amid passionate discussions and debates with the mission members, Cerge expressed his desire to return to his first love – media – after June 2010, when his term and that of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo end.

It is unfortunate that Cerge never realized that desire.

For reference:

Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
NUJP Chairman
0917-7256333

When has wearing Stop-Killing-Journalists shirt become a security threat to the President?

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)- Iloilo chapter condemns the actuation of a member of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) who prevented Cirilo Renduque, cameraman of GMA-7 in Iloilo City, from nearing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo because he was wearing a shirt demanding justice for victims of the Ampatuan massacre.

In an insensitive, arrogant and high-handed manner, the PSG personnel prevented Renduque and reporter Fabian Paderes from nearing and getting video footages at the tarmac of the Iloilo Airport during the arrival of the President on Tuesday, January 12.

Despite repeatedly showing his identification card accredited by the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) and the Media Accreditation and Relations Office (MARO) of the Office of the Press Secretary, Renduque and Paderes were not allowed to enter the tarmac because the cameraman was wearing a black shirt emblazoned with “Stop Killing Journalists” and the names of 27 journalists who were among those butchered in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao on November 23, 2009.

We find no logical reason for preventing the crew from nearing the tarmac and thereby preventing them from doing their job.

Wearing the shirt is an act of grieving for the victims and sympathizing with the victims’ families. It is also an expression of condemnation and to demand justice.

When has this become a security threat to the President? Is this offensive to the highest official of the land? Didn’t the President herself declare a national day of mourning after the massacre and has not her various spokesperson repeatedly condemned the hideous crime?

We hope that the actuation of the PSG member is a result of his overzealousness in doing his job and not a policy of the PSG and other government agencies.

But based on accounts of the television crew, what adds insult to injury is that the PSG personnel even joked that he would have let them through if Renduque was instead wearing a “Kapuso”shirt. He also even told Renduque that he could by a shirt at a shopping mall so he could change the black shirt.

It is ironic that a shirt condemning the world’s worst attack on journalists and demanding justice for the victims is used as an excuse to trample on the rights of journalists.

We urge colleagues to collectively condemn this incident and we call on the concerned agencies to ensure that this will not happen again.

Ilocos Sur broadcaster ambushed just a few meters away from provincial police office

Unidentified gunmen ambushed but failed to kill Eugene Paet Y Piano, 49, a radio commentator of DWRS Commando Radio station, which is located in Brgy. Tamag, Vigan, Ilocos Sur.

Reports received by NUJP said that Paet, known among members of the local media community as “Commando Uno”, was rushed to Metro Vigan Cooperative Hospital after he was shot around 7:20 PM yesterday (January 7). The incident occurred along the national highway in Bulag Sentro, Bantay town, Ilocos Sur, just a few meters away from the Ilocos Sur provincial police office at Camp Pres. Elpidio Quirino.

Colleagues of Paet said the anchorman was heading home after his program at his radio station when waylaid by the gunmen.

Police reports said unidentified men riding in tandem on a red yamaha motorcycle with no plate number overtook Paet and shot him, hitting him twice. Paet was able to run away and sought help from residents of a nearby house. The suspects immediately fled the scene.

The suspects were armed with .45 caliber as evidenced by the recovered cartridge shells and slug.

Paet was first employed by Bombo Radyo-Vigan in the ‘80s before transferring to the dwRS, which is owned by Rep. Ronald Singson, son of Deputy National Security Adviser Luis Singson.

Paet’s son, Eugene Jr., believes someone wants to silence of his father because he said he could think of no one who bears any personal grudge against him except those that might have been irked from his commentaries in the radio.

Broadcaster Arlon Serdenia, chairperson of the local chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) in Ilocos Sur, condemned the incident and appealed to authorities to immediately solve the attack.

(NUJP-IFJ Media Safety Office)

Ilocos Sur Broadcaster Ambushed Just a Few Meters Away from Provincial Police Office

NATIONAL UNION OF JOURNALISTS OF THE PHILIPPINES (NUJP)

Alert

January 8, 2009

Ilocos Sur broadcaster ambushed just a few meters away from provincial police office

Unidentified gunmen ambushed but failed to kill Eugene Paet Y Piano, 49, a radio commentator of DWRS Commando Radio station, which is located in Brgy. Tamag, Vigan, Ilocos Sur.

Reports received by NUJP said that Paet, known among members of the local media community as “Commando Uno”, was rushed to Metro Vigan Cooperative Hospital after he was shot around 7:20 PM yesterday (January 7). The incident occurred along the national highway in Bulag Sentro, Bantay town, Ilocos Sur, just a few meters away from the Ilocos Sur provincial police office at Camp Pres. Elpidio Quirino.

Colleagues of Paet said the anchorman was heading home after his program at his radio station when waylaid by the gunmen.

Police reports said unidentified men riding in tandem on a red yamaha motorcycle with no plate number overtook Paet and shot him, hitting him twice. Paet was able to run away and sought help from residents of a nearby house. The suspects immediately fled the scene.

The suspects were armed with .45 caliber as evidenced by the recovered cartridge shells and slug.

Paet was first employed by Bombo Radyo-Vigan in the ‘80s before transferring to the dwRS, which is owned by Rep. Ronald Singson, son of Deputy National Security Adviser Luis Singson.

Paet’s son, Eugene Jr., believes someone wants to silence of his father because he said he could think of no one who bears any personal grudge against him except those that might have been irked from his commentaries in the radio.

Broadcaster Arlon Serdenia, chairperson of the local chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) in Ilocos Sur, condemned the incident and appealed to authorities to immediately solve the attack.

(NUJP-IFJ Media Safety Office)

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NATIONAL UNION OF JOURNALISTS OF THE PHILIPPINES
www.nujp.org
4/F FSS Bldg. Scout Castor cor Scout Tuason Streets
Quezon City, Philippines
Email: nujphil@gmail.com
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“There can be no press freedom if journalists
exist in conditions of corruption, poverty or fear.”
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NUJP launches JUSTICE FUND for massacre victims

On the 40th day of the Ampatuan massacre which left at least 57 persons dead, including at least 30 journalists and media workers, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) announced the creation of the JUSTICE FUND.

The FUND seeks to raise the necessary finances that will help address the needs of the families of the victims of the massacre including a trauma counseling program, the implementation of a training program for the local media community and supporting the legal and advocacy efforts to seek justice for the victims.

Nestor Burgos Jr., NUJP chair, said that through the FUND, individuals and groups that wish to help can send their donations which will be deposited in an account to be opened specifically for this purpose.

The activities that the FUND will support will be posted on the NUJP website and will be regularly audited by an external auditor, the results of which will also be published and reported to the donors.

NUJP identified five target areas for the JUSTICE FUND: a trauma counseling program for the families and members of local media community; enhancement of the capabilities of media practitioners in Mindanao through a series of training on risk awareness and safety, election reporting, and reporting on culturally and politically sensitive places such as Mindanao; litigation support; public awareness campaigns; and the documentation of other incidents of harassment and attacks on the press in Mindanao.

The JUSTICE FUND also aims to build solidarity between media and the public, and to deepen public understanding of factors that led to the massacre.

“The JUSTICE FUND seeks to build awareness not just on what happened in Ampatuan, Maguindanao on November 23, 2009 but on the system that breeds corruption, warlordism and political patronage which paved the way to the carnage.

The JUSTICE FUND also aspires to encourage a Press that is critical and ethical, zealous of its rights and responsibilities,”.

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CONCEPT PAPER:

JUSTICE FUND For humanitarian assistance, advocacy work and legal support

The massacre that left 57 people dead, at least 31 of them media workers, in the town of Ampatuan, Maguindanao on November 23 has left the Philippine media community staggering, not just from the toll – already established as the largest single loss for the press in history – but also the task of helping rebuild the lives of those left behind, as well as of our colleagues who lost friends and co-workers, and have had to cover and live through the story as well.

Another vital task is working to hold accountable all those who should be held accountable, not just the persons who carried out the carnage, but those responsible for creating the circumstances that made it possible. For more than the refusal of a power hungry warlord to brook any resistance to his rule, the roots of the massacre lie in a system of governance that nurtures allies like the Ampatuans, arming them and turning a blind eye to their corruption and venality in exchange for their loyalty and support.

To achieve all these will require substantial resources. Thus, the need to reach out to colleagues, friends and the public for help.

The following are the tasks at hand:

1. Address the massive trauma and stress suffered by the victims’ families and the local media community. While emergency trauma counseling has been initiated, there is a need for a mid- to long-term program, since it will take time for them to cope with the loss of kin, friends, colleagues.

2. Strengthen the skills and capabilities of media practitioners, especially those in the provinces where the risks are greatest. Among the most urgent are trainings in risk awareness and safety, election reporting, and reporting on culturally and politically sensitive places such as Mindanao. The sad fact is, attacks on the press are not likely to end despite the outrage stirred by the Ampatuan massacre and many Filipino journalists continue to embark on dangerous coverage with practically no tools to help them cope with the challenges as well as stress in doing the job.

3. Support the legal actions against the suspects by assisting the private and public prosecutors and the witnesses through whatever actions needed. This require vast resources, given the costs of litigation as well as providing sanctuary for witnesses and even litigants who may come under threat from the accused.

4. Intensify public awareness campaigns, including organizing monthly commemorations of the massacre, holding a countdown for justice, initiating different types of discussion forums focusing on the massacre and its root causes, and the publication of materials.

5. Document other incidents of harassment and attacks on the press in Mindanao.

The JUSTICE FUND seeks to enable NUJP and other media groups working to help the families of victims and local media community achieve the tasks outlined above.

The NUJP is a national organization of journalists and media workers in the Philippines, with 62 chapters in various news organizations and provinces nationwide. It was established in 1986 to address the dismal working conditions of media workers and defend the people’s right to a free press and free expression. NUJP has been in the forefront of the struggle to stop media killings and all forms of attacks against media. NUJP is the local affiliate of the International Federation of Journalists, the biggest alliance of media groups and unions in the world.

Immediately after the Ampatuan massacre, NUJP sent a quick reaction team to the area, conducted a fact-finding mission to document the incident and ascertain the needs of the families, organized an International Solidarity Mission to pressure the Arroyo government to action, called for a Global Day of Action Against the Ampatuan Massacre to which media unions and groups in 31 countries responded, and was the lead convenor of a broad alliance of media groups and civil society organizations called November 23 Movement that has launched protest actions.

The JUSTICE FUND is more than just raising money. It seeks to build solidarity between the target beneficiaries of the program and the media, between media and the public. The JUSTICE FUND seeks to build awareness not just on what happened in Ampatuan Maguindanao on November 23, 2009 but on the system that breeds corruption, warlordism and political patronage which paved the way to the carnage. The JUSTICE FUND seeks to encourage a Press that is critical and ethical, zealous of its rights and responsibilities.