On November 2, 2021, the Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club, Inc. (BCBC) the longest running media organization North of Manila, commemorates comrades who succumbed to COVID-19 and to unjust killings.
As the sun sets, members of the media slowly came in trickles in the small portion of Burnham Park named Camp Peppot Ilagan, a constant venue for media events for many years but was never used for the last two years because of the pandemic.
They gathered in memory of those who lost the fight during the pandemic and for those who lost their lives by lawless acts. Among the local journalists who succumbed to COVID-19 are Jerry Mayona, Benny Carantes, Ernie Olson and Cesar Reyes.
The group also came to pray for those who are fighting for their lives as well as for those who lost their jobs. The locality was heavily affected when national media ABS-CBN and local daily newspaper Sunstar Baguio closed down during the pandemic, not only on news delivery but the livelihood of many journalists.
Veteran journalist Frank Cimatu acknowledges their importance saying “these media outlets were the most active in gathering news and had been influencers of other local media news outlets.”
But along with the pandemic in the past months, several journalists had been red-tagged for bringing out bold and uncensored news on corruption and injustices. BCBC President Aldwin Quitasol said “the worsening culture of impunity is now a challenge to the media to continue fighting and standing for their rights to freedom of information.”
Veteran Journalist Brenda Subido who was also a survivor of months of incarceration with no charges during the Martial Law in 1982 said the “state-sponsored red-tagging endangers journalists as it somewhat gives licence to state forces to violate the rights of media practitioners.” Carl Taawan