We hail the successful battle waged by our colleagues in the RMN-Davao Employees’ Union who went on strike and, within only eight days, forced management to negotiate with them and sign a new collective bargaining agreement.
We also applaud the dismissal by the General Santos City Prosecutor’s Office of the P18-million libel suit filed by former Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group Central Mindanao chief Mohamad “Bong” Aquia against Edwin Espejo, chairman of the NUJP chapter there.
The triumph of the RDEU proves the importance of organizing ourselves to demand and struggle for what is rightfully ours – just wages and working conditions.
It is a shining example that media workers, so long as they stand united and do not waver in the struggle for their rights and welfare, can and will triumph.
We call on all media workers in the country to follow the example of the RDEU.
We call on media owners and managers to look to the welfare and security of their employees.
Even if physical assaults on our ranks cease, the Philippine press can still not claim to be truly free if Filipino media workers continue to toil for unjust wages and inhumane working conditions.
The libel case against Espejo stemmed from reports he wrote that were posted on the online sites of MindaNews and the Asian Correspondent in which he quoted the police Highway Patrol Group as saying Aquia had hidden in the General Santos mansion of boxing champion and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao to evade arrest for alleged carjacking.
In dismissing the complaint, Prosecutor Jose Blanza Jr. rightly found that Aquia could present no proof of malice on Espejo’s part. He also said the fact that Espejo had merely reported on what the HPG had said was enough grounds to junk the case.
However, a separate complaint, this time filed by Pacquiao and seeking damages of P75-million remains pending.
While we are confident that this complaint, like Aquia’s, is headed where it rightly belongs – the trash bin – we again call on Pacquiao to withdraw the case himself lest he be seen as no different than other politicians and celebrities who think nothing of abusing their influence and wealth to file harassment suits meant to silence those whose only crime is to report the truth as faithfully as they can.
Nestor Burgos Jr., NUJP chair
Rowena Paraan, NUJP Secretary-General