Jethro C. Dionisio, journalist, human rights activist, takes final journey

BABAK, Samal Island (MindaNews/19 April) — Relatives, friends and colleagues came as journalist Jethro C. Dionisio was laid to rest in his native town Tuesday afternoon.

Jethro spent his last moments in his home in Purok 4, Balet of this town before succumbing last April 10 to complications caused by a stroke he suffered while working in San Francisco, Agusan del Sur last March 21 this year.

He was subsequently confined at the Davao Medical School Foundation and was discharged last April 5 after his condition stabilized.

Jethro was a political detainee during the Marcos dictatorship and had suffered torture. He worked as a writer for the human rights group Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) in the final years of Martial Law, in Lanao del Norte and Iligan City and later in Misamis Occidental.

In 1987, Jethro ventured into the vibrant community media of Cebu in the late 1980s, joining Freeman Daily and making his mark as a reporter covering the court beat for Sun.Star Daily Cebu.

“If you’re doing the court beat in Cebu, Jethro is the man to watch,” said Froilan Gallardo of MindaNews. Gallardo had worked with the Cebu Daily News.

After his stint in Sun.Star and with the short-lived cooperative-owned Independent Post, Jethro went to business and did consultancies with the local government of Lapu Lapu City. In 2008, he went home and sort of hibernated in their home in Babak.

In February 2010, Jethro went out of hibernation and joined the then fledgling Periodico News Network (PNN), said journalist Bong Fabe. He served as the editor-in-chief of its English newspaper, The Daily Corridor.

The PNN however folded up on November 30, 2010.

Jethro and other former employees of the PNN formed Perdioco Advocacy Cooperative (Periodicoop) which now publishes the English news tabloid Newsline Mindanao and the Bisayan Dyaryo Mindanao. He served in the Board of Directors of Periodicoop and served as the editor in chief of Newsline Mindanao.

He was also doing consultancies, including one with the Provincial Information Office of Agusan del Sur.

Dionesio was one of the complainants in the ongoing labor case for alleged illegal dismissal, against PNN publisher Winston “Boy” Visitacion, network manager Mitch Maduro and Cagayan de Oro operations manager Mimi Mandahuyan. Visitacion has since then gone into hiding.

“Jet was a fighter; he survived many trials in life. He remains an inspiration to all of us. We hope he did not die in vain and justice will be served him and us,” said Alex Dane, Chairperson of Periodicoop.

Arlene Dionisio Lanurias, nephew of Jethro thanked all those who helped his uncle when he was in the hospital and to those who stood by them in their time of sorrow.

“Daku kayo among pasalamat especially sa iyang mga colleagues sa media nga mitabang sa iya pagpatambal og karun sa iyang pagkamatay, (We are very thankful especially to his media colleagues who helped us when he was in the hospital and now in his demise),” said Lanurias.

Jethro’s media colleagues in Cagayan de Oro, Davao City and Cebu City helped in raising funds for his medical expenses.

His colleagues in Periodicoop came all the way from Cagayan de Oro to pay their last respects. Some Davao-based journalists also attended his burial. (BenCyrus G. Ellorin/MindaNews)