CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/17 March) — Twenty journalists and media workers completed the country’s first all-women safety training organized by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).
NUJP chair Rowena Paraan said the two-day training held on March 16 and 17 at the Gardens of Malasag Eco-Tourism Village is historic, it being the first ever all-women training for safety and risk awareness undertaken by the organization.
“We want to give attention to the specific needs of women working in media – whether field work or office-based because we know there are a lot of issues that are encountered by the sector,” she said.
Paraan, who was recently elected as NUJP president, said the activity serves as the venue to surface the issues confronting women in media “so we will look about what we can do with it.”
Women in media experience discrimination, harassment and worse, death, in the performance of their duties and even those working inside newsrooms and other related media work suffer the same. “We know that (women) media practitioners are harassed by sources, officials and even colleagues in media,” she added.
In explaining the rationale of the activity, Paraan said NUJP has not given much focus on women issues before “inasmuch as we want to” but with this training “we hope we’ll be able to push this work for the organization and later on [the committee] will be more active to address women concerns,” she said.
The training was held in Mindanao to highlight the situation of women media workers in the region confronted with the complex issues.
“It will be good if we understand what is happening in Mindanao, understand its cultural diversity and how this will impact on women situation,” she said.
The challenge is also in the context that media in the Philippines is faced with the pervading culture of impunity and violence regardless of gender. The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that the country ranks as one of the deadliest countries in the world for journalists, with Iraq on top.
It also ranks 2nd in terms of percentage in cases of complete impunity covering the periods 1992 to 2013. Iraq also ranks No. 1, Philippines 2nd, followed by Algeria, Colombia and Somalia in the top five countries.
The killings with impunity continue with government failing to address the problem until now. Under the two-year old Aquino regime, 15 deaths were already recorded, five of which are from Mindanao, JB R. Deveza NUJP-International Federation of Journalists Mindanao Safety Officer said.
These are Christopher Guarin, publisher of the newspaper Tatak News Nationwide who was shot dead in an ambush in General Santos City on January 5, 2012; Rommel Palma, April 30, 2012, Bombo Radyo driver; Alfredo Velarde Jr., Nov. 11, 2011; Aldion Layao, Davao City who was gunned down on April 8 while on his way home; Nestor Libaton, Mati City, Davao Oriental.
Participants to the all-women safety training include women journalists and media workers from Pagadian, Zamboanga, Lanao del Norte, Kidapawan and Surigao del Norte and development communication students from Mati, Davao Oriental.
The two-day activity was preceded by a trainers training on March 10 and will end on March 20, also in the same venue. (Vanessa L. Almeda/MindaNews)