By Joey Natividad
CITY OF NAGA, Bicol Region (BicolToday.com/27-Feb-2013) – The European Union Ambassador, and other foreign press groups expressing their solidarity with Philippine journalists became the highlight of the 8th Congress of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) after electing its new set of officers who will be steering the journalists group in this volatile times for the next two years.
H.E. Guy Ledoux, European Union (EU) Ambassador to the Philippines, who keynoted the event, discussed the EU’s concern about the human rights situation in the country, and press freedom in particular, and what the EU has done to help address these issues.
In his talk, Ledoux noted the failure of the 15th Philippine Congress to pass the Freedom of Information bill, which he called a key piece of legislation that would have tremendously boosted the Aquino administration’s avowed aim of fighting corruption in government.
The EU Ambassador also raised the continued murder of journalists and he noted the continued failure to convict a single mastermind in media killings, NUJP informed Bicol Today.com yesterday.
According to NUJP, the widow of murdered Palawan broadcaster Gerardo Ortega, Patria, and eldest daughter Michaella also spoke before the Congress, acknowledging the NUJP’s steadfast commitment to the search for justice for his death and those of the 153 other journalists murdered in the country since 1986. At the same time, Patria Ortega aired her “frustration” at the continued efforts to subvert justice and let the accused masterminds evade being brought before the bar.
On the night of February 23, Congress participants marked the third year and third month since the November 23, 2009 Ampatuan massacre with prayers for the victims and pledges to remain committed to the cause of justice and genuine press freedom and democracy in the country.
Monette Salaysay, widow of Maguindanao Massacre victim Napoleon Salaysay; Elvie Sanchez, wife of slain Baguio-based journalist Romeo Sanchez; and Patria Ortega thanked journalists and groups that continue to fight with them for justice for their loved ones.
In line with the event, press freedom groups–among them are the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), International Federation of Journalists, Norwegian Union of Journalists (Norsk Journalistlag); and local allies Philippine Press Institute, Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, and Center for Community Journalism and Development– had expressed their solidarity.
In a message read on the 24th, CPJ commended NUJP for being “a steadfast ally in working not only for the protection of journalists but in organizing to confront attempts to shrink the space for media to operate, as well as combat the impunity with which journalists are harassed, threatened and killed.”
NUJP elected the new set of officers during the 8th National Congress which was held at the Oasis Splash Resort in Los Banos, Laguna from February 23-24.
The new NUJP Directorate, which will serve a two-year term, is composed of:
Chairperson – Rowena Paraan, NUJP Media Safety Office, formerly with Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ)
Vice chair – Alwyn Alburo, GMA-7
Secretary General – Rupert Mangilit, NUJP Media Safety Office, formerly with GMA-7
Deputy Secretary General – JB Deveza, Philippine Daily Inquirer, NUJP Mindanao Safety Officer
Treasurer – Jo Clemente, Philippine Daily Inquirer
Auditor – Ryan Rosauro, Philippine Daily Inquirer
Nonoy Espina, InterAksyon.com
Nestor Burgos, Philippine Daily Inquirer (immediate past chairman)
Julie Alipala, Philippine Daily Inquirer
Chino Gaston, GMA-7
Fred Villareal, Punto Central Luzon
Redempto Anda, Philippine Daily Inquirer
Bobby Labalan, Media Solutions
Cong Corrales, PCIJ
Sonny Fernandez, ABS-CBN