DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Media groups have demanded the immediate release of a community journalist who was among five persons arrested during a simultaneous raid by local authorities in Tacloban City early Friday morning, February 7.
Altermidya Network said that executive director of its member alternative media outfit, Eastern Vista, Frenchimae Cumpio, and four other human rights activists were arrested around 2:30 am.
They are detained at the Palo PNP office and reportedly being charged with illegal possession of firearms.
In its statement, Altermidya revealed that Cumpio has reportedly been under surveillance for several months now.
In a recent incident last Jan. 31, the group said that an unidentified person visited the premises of the Eastern Vista office, carrying a photo of Cumpio and a band of flowers while asking for the exact location of the office.
Altermidya said that Eastern Vista has continuously reported on human rights issues in the Visayas including military abuses.
“We condemn the Leyte police and state forces for this latest attack on Eastern Vista, our fellow community journalist Cumpio, and against people’s groups in Leyte. We demand their immediate and safe release, and call on the public to denounce this latest attempt to silence and intimidate independent media and human rights defenders,” the group said.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), in a separate statement, demanded the immediate release of Cumpio.
The group noted that Cumpio’s arrest is similar to the case of Anne Krueger, of Negros-based alternative media outfit Paghimutad, who was among more than 50 persons arrested on November 2019, in simultaneous raids by the military and police on offices of legal organizations accused by the government of being a communist “fronts”.
“Cumpio’s arrest is clearly part of government’s crackdown against not only these supposed communist fronts but the critical media, mainstream and alternative, as well,” the NUJP said.
Human rights group Karapatan said that the police “forcibly entered” the office of its local chapter, Katungod Sinirangan Bisayas, which it shares with Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), and peasant organizations SAGUPA in Fatima Village, Bañezville, Brgy. 77, Tacloban City while people inside were sleeping.
It added that the staff house of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines(RMP)-Eastern Visayas and Eastern Vista in Calanipawan, Tacloban City were also raided.
Guns, explosives, and ammunitions were alleged planted by authorities, Karapatan said.
Among those arrested were Alexander Philip Abinguna; Karapatan National Council member for Eastern Visayas; Mira Legion of Bayan Eastern Visayas; Mariell Domanquill of RMP; and Marissa Cabaljao of People Surge with her one-year-old baby.
Prior to these incidents, Katungod SB reportedly received reports of possible raids of offices of people’s organizations on February 1.
Karapatan denounced the “Gestapo-like” raids in Tacloban, adding that several incidents of threats and harassment were reported by said individuals and their organizations, which were critics to the government’s Memorandum Order No. 32 and the various counterinsurgency policies of the Duterte administration. (davaotoday.com)