HomeNewsPhilippine group urges international scrutiny as press freedom faces ongoing threats

Philippine group urges international scrutiny as press freedom faces ongoing threats

Rights group Karapatan raised concerns over persistent attacks against journalists, artists, and academics in a rebuttal to the Philippine government’s claim of a “vibrant” press freedom landscape. 

Cristina Palabay, secretary general of the group, described the human rights situation in the country as “bleak, if not worse”. 

On Jan. 16, Karapatan, in collaboration with media and artist groups, launched the #FightToExpress campaign aimed to advance press freedom and freedom of expression in the country.

“What is strong and vibrant here is the people’s active engagement and defense for their basic rights and freedoms,” said Palabay.

During the launch, Palabay told reporters that her organization and other rights groups “would show the real human rights situation” to United Nations Special Rapporteur Irene Khan who is set to visit the country this month. 

Karapatan said reports from at least 39 organizations were submitted to Ms. Khan. The group called on the Marcos Jr. administration to address the rights issues and implement recommendations from UN experts.

“Here is a big example of the government’s so-called ‘promotion of human rights,’ and yet, the Philippine government is already vilifying human rights defenders and press freedom defenders because they have tagged them as enemies of the state. If not doublespeak, this is downright hypocrisy,” said Palabay.

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Karapatan expressed dismay at the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) executive director, Undersecretary Paul Gutierrez, for terrorist-tagging detained alternative media journalist Frenchie Mae Cumpio. 

Palabay deplored Gutierrez’s statements, saying, “He also wants to know the situation of Franchie Mae Cumpio, who is currently detained in Palo Provincial Jail in Leyte due to her active role in the local terrorist group of communists.” 

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