An alternative media group in the Philippines called for the release of community journalist Frenchie Mae Cumpio two years after she was arrested on February 7, 2020.
Cumpio was editor of the Eastern Vista news website when she was arrested and charged of illegal possession of firearms in Tacloban City in the central Philippines.
The young journalist was also a member of AlterMidya, a network of independent media organizations, and anchored a local radio program in Aksyon Radyo-Tacloban DYVL.
While in detention, additional charges were filed against Cumpio.
The Anti-Money Laundering Council charged her and colleague Mariel Domequil with a non-bailable case of terrorist financing in connection with the money that was supposedly found during their arrest.
Prosecutor Mary Grace Arboladura of the Catbalogan regional trial court found enough evidence to pursue the case during a hearing in September 2021.
The media group AlterMidya, however, said the allegation “was based entirely on the statements of two questionable witnesses who were presented as rebel returnees.”
“Like many trumped-up charges against critics, the supposed witnesses told fantastic stories about Frenchie and Mariel distributing cash among armed communists in the mountains,” said the group in a statement.
A case of civil asset forfeiture is also being heard in a Quezon City trial court against the journalist.
“All these are wrongful charges against our colleague,” said the AlterMidya statement. “Frenchie Mae is a credible community journalist and radio anchor in Tacloban, it added.
“In her second year of unjust detention, we in the Altermidya Network and the whole community of independent media reaffirm our call: Drop all the charges against Frenchie Mae Cumpio!” said the group.