By ALYSSA MAE CLARIN
MANILA – In celebration of the International Women’s Day, media groups and press freedom advocates highlighted the increasing attacks on women in the media industry, and reiterated their call for the release of community journalist Frenchie Mae Cumpio.
Since President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr., took office on June 30 2022, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) recorded a total of 47 cases of attacks against the media.
Fourteen of the 47 cases involved women journalists, many of whom were subjected to harassment, death threats, and red-tagging. Two are facing charges of libel and cyber-libel, as well as other forms of judicial harassment filed against them by government officials.
Of these cases, Cumpio remains detention.
Cumpio, along with four others, was arrested during the dawn raids in the offices conducted by the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Tacloban on Feb. 7, 2020.
The arrested, known as the Tacloban 5, were initially charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives and were accused as being high-ranking officials of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CCP) in Visayas.
Cumpio and her co-accused Mariel Domequil are facing new charges of financing terrorism filed against them by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
“Since Marcos Jr. assumed the presidency, three women journalists have been red tagged like Cumpio,” said NUJP in a statement.
They are Maria Ressa, who has recently been acquitted from a tax evasion case, veteran journalist Inday-Espina Varona, and Bulatlat’s own editor-in-chief Ronalyn Olea.
The International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) – Philippines also condemned Cumpio’s continued detention, and pointed out how brave women truth-tellers in the country and all around the world are still facing intensifying attacks for putting a spotlight on the sufferings and aspirations of the marginalized community.
“Such brand of journalism and brave truth-telling do not sit well with the powers-that-be,” IAWRT-PH said.”And for this they are being discredited and attacked both as a journalist and as a woman.”
NUJP also mentioned how women journalists are often the ones facing more vicious online harassment than their male counterparts. Online trolls, more often than not, criticize their looks on top of criticizing their credibility and intelligence.
“While we welcome some positive developments under the new administration, attacks on women journalists continue to this day,” the organization added.