Women journalists demand stop to online harassment
Women journalists on Wednesday maintained that reporters should not be subjected to any form of online or verbal harassment, especially by government officials.
In a media forum that aimed to highlight measures to stop attacks on women journalists and various forms of online harassment, the journalists also stressed the importance of a support system among media organizations to call out their abusers.
On Tuesday, Inquirer reporter Jhesset O. Enano was subjected to an online attack from the Twitter account of Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.
Enano, who was covering the 35th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Thailand earlier this week, tweeted that Locsin was sitting with other world leaders at the closing ceremony, an event that President Duterte had skipped.
Locsin quoted Enano’s tweet and cursed her in his reply. His tweet instantly earned backlash from netizens and journalists who called it an attack against Enano.
In another tweet made a day after his controversial remarks, Locsin said: “Had I known that she was a lady I’d have let it pass but I watched her president stick it out start to finish but for one photo op, enduring statements far longer than his own because he has the breeding to listen to those who heard him.”
For Ronalyn Olea, a journalist from Bulatlat.com and current treasurer of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television, Locsin’s reply was “a below-the-belt comment from a Cabinet official.”
“The Inquirer can sue him for such behavior because government officials have their own code of conduct. They should behave properly,” Olea said.
Such acts meant to malign reporters for doing their jobs are attacks on press freedom, she said.
Inday Espina-Varona, columnist and former chair of National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, said Locsin’s comments were “sliding close to criminal behavior” and could be considered defamation.
Enano currently covers the environment beat for the Inquirer, where she has produced in-depth reports on climate change, biodiversity, wildlife trafficking, disasters, air pollution and environmental policies.
Her story about children who received classical music lessons while living around the Payatas garbage dump won as most outstanding feature on youth and education in the Lasallian Scholarum Awards in 2017. Her three-part series on the survivors of martial law during the Marcos regime was a finalist in the 2018 Catholic Mass Media Awards.
An Inquirer scholar, Enano received her journalism degree and graduated magna cum laude from the University of the Philippines Diliman. Her undergraduate thesis on the admission and accessibility of UP Diliman for persons with disabilities was recognized as best investigative journalism thesis in 2015.
She also studied journalism in the United States for a year, having earned a scholarship under the US State Department’s Global Undergraduate Exchange Program.
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