The University of the Philippines (UP) Department of Journalism (Journ), in collaboration with alternative media group AlterMidya, organized a forum discussing the challenges confronting the Philippine press, November 7.

The forum titled “Pressing Boundaries: Challenges in Journalism Amid a Shrinking Democratic Space” was held at the UP College of Mass Communication Auditorium focused on the perspective of alternative media practitioners.

UP Journ Associate Professor and Bulatlat Associate Editor Danilo Arao shared insights into the persistent culture of impunity in the Philippines, especially concerning journalists.

“Out of more than 190 countries, 12 ang nása listahan at nando’n táyo sa tinatawag na ‘Notorious 12.’ Nagsimula ang Global Impunity Index, 16 years ago… Since the first time na in-establish ito ng Committee to Protect Journalists, nandoon na táyo, noon pa man,” Arao said.

(Out of more than 190 countries, we are in the ‘Notorious 12.’ We have been on that list since the Global Impunity Index was established by the Committee to Protect Journalists 16 years ago.)

“Sa framework ng human rights violations, kinikilala rin ito ng United Nations, kahit isa lang ang human rights violation at a particular timeframe, pinapakita nito iyong pagiging malala ng estado, sapagkat hindi naprotektahan ang kahit isa lang,” he added.

(In the context of human rights violations, even a single case at any given time highlights the severity of the state’s failure to protect its citizens, as recognized by the United Nations.)

The forum also featured insights from UP College of Fine Arts Professor Renan Ortiz, who shared his experiences and aspirations as a cartoonist for Pinoy Weekly. He voiced a hopeful vision for the future, expressing a desire for a more diverse and profound discourse in the field.

“Sana matupad, sana sa hinaharap maraming kartunista, sana mas maraming platporma, mas maraming uusbong na babaeng kartunista, para mas malalim na talakayan,” Ortiz said.

(I look forward to seeing more cartoonists, especially women, emerge, offering deeper discussions across various platforms.)

AlterMidya’s Avon Ang issued a call to action for the youth, encouraging the next generation of journalists to press on despite adversities.

“Sana tanggapin natin ang hámon na bílang kabataang mamamahayag, hinahamon táyo ng sitwasyon sa kabila ng pananakot at kahirapan, magpapatuloy táyo,” Ang urged.

(Let’s embrace the challenge as young journalists, to continue our work despite intimidation and hardship.)

The event concluded with a candle lighting protest in front of UP Plaridel Hall. Media workers and students gathered to demand justice for journalists killed in the Gaza Strip, symbolizing their solidarity and commitment to press freedom.

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