The Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP), of which I am a member, issued this statement of solidarity today following the killing of 10 journalists in Paris Wednesday.
Journalists working in the Philippines have themselves experienced threats to press freedom. Barely 24 hours after the Paris killings, a 48-year-old female news correspondent was gunned down in Bataan province north of Manila. Nerlita “Nerlie” Ledesma is the 31st media worker shot dead since 2010 when President Benigno Aquino took office. While the number of fatalities during the Aquino administration is so far less than half of the 80 killed during the previous administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, this is cold comfort to all media workers who must deal with the possibility of being shot for words they have written or spoken.
Do you know that Philippine life insurance companies will not insure journalists who cover in “unsafe” areas like Muslim Mindanao and rebel-controlled territories?
Most FOCAP members are veterans in covering Muslims’ fight for their freedoms. Many of us understand the agony of the Muslim people and have tried our best to convey their points of view. By standing side by side with our colleagues in Paris we are asserting the right of every human being to speak out freely, be they Muslim or Christian.