Filipina journalist dedicates Reporters Without Borders award to colleagues

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 09 2018 05:42 AM

Filipina journalist Inday Espina-Varona who was honored in London by international media watchdog Reporters Without Borders dedicated her prize to colleagues facing threats, censorship, and violence.

In her acceptance speech, the veteran journalist said, "I share this with embattled Philippine colleagues: the 185 killed since the 1986 restoration of a fragile, perpetually threatened democracy, the 12 killed in the first two years of President Rodrigo Duterte’s rule."

"This is also for colleagues who face death threats, vilification campaigns, and revocation of access to coverage, for doing what journalists are supposed to do — questioning official acts and claims, especially on issues of human rights and corruption."

Varona early Friday (Manila time) received the Prize for Independence during the 2018 Press Freedom Awards for "resisting pressure (including financial, political, economic or religious pressure) or because of the values and rules that enable them to resist." 

She bested Ghanian undercover reporter Anas Aremeyaw Anas, Péter Pető of Hungarian news website 24.hu, and Pakistani journalist Taha Siddiqui.

Varona said she is proud of Filipino journalists because they refuse to be silent and continue to fight.

"Filipino journalists are brave because we come after the many who showed courage over hundreds of years. And we are brave because our people are brave," she added.

"We cannot let them down. We will never forget — never forget the dark past. And never forget that we triumphed over that past and will again overcome."

Varona was recognized for her work as a contributing editor at ABS-CBN, where she previously headed citizen journalism unit, Bayan Mo i-Patrol Mo (BMPM).

She was also acknowledged as one of the founders of #BabaeAko, a social media campaign that "informs and mobilizes the public on women’s rights issues in response to Duterte’s many misogynistic comments and attacks on women."

BRAVE JOURNALISTS

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) brought its annual Press Freedom Awards to London for the first time, highlighting the "urgent need" for protection of journalists in an increasingly dangerous year for media.

Some 63 journalists, 11 citizen journalists and four media assistants have been killed so far in 2018, RSF said, including Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi who was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

A total of 55 journalists were killed in the whole of 2017.

Established in 1985 to defend and promote press freedom, Paris-based RSF has been presenting its yearly awards since 1992.

Previous winners include the late Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi and the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet.

After opening a UK bureau in 2016, RSF brought the awards from Paris to London this year, in a ceremony held at the Getty Images Gallery.

The 3 prizes were for courage, impact, and independence in journalism.

"This year's shortlist reflects the challenges faced by brave journalists across the world," said RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire.

"All of the nominees for our Press Freedom Awards courageously fight back against forces that would prefer journalism didn't exist, from online mobs to organised crime and authoritarian governments."

The Prize for Courage nominees are Paolo Borrometi (Italy), Swati Chaturvedi (India), Cigdem Toker (Turkey) and Hamid el Mahdaoui (Morocco).

Matthew Caruana Galizia, the son of late Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia who was killed in a car bomb near her home in October last year, is one of the nominees for the Prize for Impact.

Afghanistan is currently the world's deadliest country for journalists, with 14 killed this year.

"The alarming number of deaths is a reminder of the urgent need to provide journalists with more protection," said Deloire.

Ninety percent of violent crimes against journalists go unpunished, said RSF.

Some 168 journalists, 150 citizen journalists and 19 media assistants are in jail, the organization said.

RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index ranks the worst five countries for journalists as China, Syria, Turkmenistan, Eritrea and North Korea, which came last at 180th. - with report from Agence France-Presse