LODI honors Filipino journalists for defending press freedom
MANILA, Philippines – Amid threats to press freedom in the Philippines, the arts and media alliance Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity (LODI) on Thursday, December 6, recognized internationally-acclaimed Filipino journalists for their excellence and courage.
In the event dubbed as "Sigaw Para sa Katotohanan" (SIKATO), LODI, its partner groups, and the honorees showed the government that the media is united and strong despite the attacks against them.
“We think the situation actually summons the best and most courageous in journalism so that media could exercise their rights and perform their duty to inform and consequently empower the Filipino people,” LODI convenor and steering committee Joel Lamangan said during the ceremony held in the Rappler newsroom in Pasig City.
Lamangan added: “It is already difficult to do good journalism under normal circumstances, but it is more challenging now under President Duterte who seem to want a pliant, blinded, submissive media."
Commission on Human Rights chairperson Chito Gascon also graced the event. He asked journalists to continue the hard work especially in these crucial times. “Your task as journalists is to present the truth to people for them to unite against all the lies. We are always behind you in your struggle for the truth, ” he said.
The gathering honored at least 12 journalists for their achievement in the cause of press freedom, including Rappler CEO and Executive Editor Maria Ressa.
The awardees were given trophies made by sculptor and painter Toym Imao, whose works are exhibited in major cities in the Philippines, United States, Europe and Vietnam. Aside from the trophy, each honoree received a caricature drawn by artist Ted Camahalan.
In her acceptance speech, Ressa thanked the groups for the award, noting that it's the first from Filipinos this year. Ressa, who is facing tax evasion cases before the Court of Tax Appeals and the Pasig Regional Trial Court has been awarded by international organizations, such as the recent Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Other honorees are the following multi-awarded journalists:
- Inday Espina-Varona - She was awarded the Prize for Independence at the 2018 Press Freedom Awards by the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders.
- Manuel Mogato - He received the Pulitzer Award for International Reporting for their series entitled Duterte's War. He also won the Roy Rowan Award for best investigative reporting of the Overseas Press Club Award.
- Fernando Sepe Jr, Jonathan Cellona, and Val Cuenca - They won in the Interactive Category of International awards for factual content by the Association for International Broadcasting for their work entitled "Stories From Under the Rubble: Inside the Battle of Marawi."
- Atom Araullo - He won in the Science, Technology and Nature Category of the International awards for factual content by the Association for International Broadcasting for his documentary entitled Philippine Seas. He also received the 2 Gold Camera award at the US International Film & Video Festival for "Philippine Seas" and "Silang Kinalimutan". (Araullo's award was received during the ceremony by Howie Severino.)
- Raffy Tima - He won the Silver Screen Award from the US International Film & Video Festival for his work "Inside Marawi: A Report On 360 Video." (Tima's award was received during the ceremony by his wife, GMA7 reporter Mariz Umali.)
- Jeff Canoy and Chiara Zambrano - They won the Gold Dolphin for Best Documentary under the Current Affairs, Human Concerns, and Social Issues Category of the 9th Cannes Corporate Media and TV Awards for their work entitled "Di Ka Pasisiil, a story on the Marawi siege." They also received the Gold World Medal in the New York Festivals under the World's Best TV & Films category. (Canoy's and Zambrano's awards were received during the ceremony by Sepe)
- Basilio Sepe - He bagged the 2018 International Photography Awards Filipino for his work entitled "The Enemy in the Dark."
- Ezra Acayan - He won the 2018 Grand Prize Award of the International Academic ForumDocumentary Photography Award for his work entitled "Duterte’s War On Drugs Is Not Over." It also won the Award for Achievement of the Ian Parry Scholarship.
'Not the time to be afraid'
Varona said the recognition is a reminder of how Filipino journalists continue to fight for a free press.
“We remember the sacrifices that fellow journalists have given for press to remain free. Ilang taon man, buwan ang lumipas...bukas makalawa man, tuloy ang laban,” said Varona. (Even if it takes more years and months, we will continue the fight.)
She said that free press defenders must "celebrate a year of survival and surviving against those who want to kill our press freedom.”
For award-winning photojournalist Acayan, they continue doing what they do because they want to give voice to the oppressed. "That’s what we all do as journalists," he added.
Basilio Sepe, a young photojournalist, stressed the importance of free and fearless reporting, especially at this time when the administration is trying to discredit media organizations for delivering reliable information to people.
“This is not the time to be afraid. It is the time that our voices need to be heard. A threat to the freedom of the press is also a threat to our democracy," Sepe said.
Ressa earlier dedicated the awards she received to the Rappler team.
“We at Rappler decided that when we look back at this moment a decade from now, we will have done everything we could: we did not duck, we did not hide... We are Rappler, and we will hold the line," she said. (READ: Maria Ressa back in PH: Don’t let the gov’t cross the line) – Rappler.com