Statement by AlterMidya (People’s Alternative Media Network) during the commemoration of World Press Freedom Day on May 3, 2023.
This 30th World Press Freedom Day, the struggle for a genuinely free press in the Philippines persists as community journalist Frenchie Mae Cumpio remains unjustly detained in Tacloban City.
Frenchie now faces three trumped-up charges that keep her behind bars.
Moreover, the proceedings of these cases have been marred with dubious witnesses and delaying tactics that mock our justice system.
In one charge of civil forfeiture that has reached the Court of Appeals, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) insists that the involved cash supports “rebels.”
We have no doubt that elements of the state are behind prolonging Frenchie’s case as she is a fierce government critic who upholds the interest of the people in her reportage.
The Altermidya Network continues to call for the dismissal of all fabricated charges and immediate release of our fellow community journalist Frenchie Mae Cumpio.
We also condemn the prolonging of her case and the continued red-tagging against her by state forces.
The fight for press freedom has never just concerned journalists and the media.
The same red-tagging that legitimized the legal attacks against Frenchie have repeatedly been used against other human rights defenders and even civilians.
Moves by the Anti-Terrorism Council and NTF-ELCAC to suppress free expression have not been confined to civil society groups and critics but also against independent media. The government order to block the websites of alternative media such as Bulatlat and PinoyWeekly, for one, is clearly an attempt to silence and stop the operations of independent news outfits.
Today, we observe World Press Freedom Day 2023 amid this repressive landscape.
With every day that Frenchie Mae and independent journalists are deprived of their freedom, burdened by fabricated charges, and silenced by unjust blocking orders– and we Filipinos are deprived of the full realization of our right to expression — it becomes ever more clear that we as a people must continue to fight for press freedom and assert our most fundamental rights.frenchie mae cumpio, philippines