Groups appeal for release of community journalist, 2 companions | Inquirer News

Groups appeal for release of community journalist, 2 companions

/ 01:54 PM May 21, 2021

TACLOBAN CITY –– Different cause-oriented groups have appealed for the release of a community journalist and her two companions, who were arrested in February 2020, for allegedly keeping unlicensed firearms and explosives.

The groups, in a statement, said the charges filed against journalist Frenchiemae Cumpio, Marielle Domequil, and Alexander Philip Abinguna have no legal basis.

Aside from illegal possession of firearms, the three are also facing charges of possession of explosives, which is a non-bailable offense.


Their two other companions—Mira Ligon and Marissa Cabaljao—were released from detention after posting bail last year on charges of illegal possession of firearms, a bailable offense.


”Indeed there is no question that Tacloban 5 is free from any legal guilt despite the numerous allegations being thrown at them. They do not deserve all the pain and suffering that the state has caused them…” the groups said.

Among these groups are the College Editors Guild of the Philippines and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.

Cumpio, who turned 22 on Jan. 23, and her companions, were arrested on Feb. 7, 2020 at the Eastern Vista staff house in Tacloban City, Leyte in a series of raids on what the military claimed were “identified Communist Terrorist Group safe houses.”

The One Free Press Coalition, a group composed of editors and publishers from several international news organizations, identified Cumpio’s case as one of the 10 “most urgent” press freedom issues in the world.

Cumpio was the executive director of Eastern Vista, an online media outfit that mostly carried stories on alleged government abuses.

When she was a student at the University of the Philippines (UP)-Tacloban, she was the editor-in-chief of UP Vista, the official school paper.


A representative of the UP Vista at UP-Tacloban, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the continued imprisonment of Cumpio was another example of the government’s “red-tagging campaign.”

“Frenchiemae and the other activists were baselessly red-tagged by the government using its resources to silence its critics,” she said.

She added that the arrest of Cumpio mirrors how the administration of President Duterte treats journalists.

The military in the region, however, maintained that Cumpio is not a legitimate journalist but a “high-ranking” leader of the New People’s Army, carrying the alias of Pen, and the secretary-general of the Regional White Area Committee-Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee.

In an earlier statement, Major Gen. Pio Diñoso III, the commanding general of the 8th Infantry Division, said the arrest of Cumpio and her companions was legal since this was covered by search and arrest warrants issued by the courts.

“They were arrested for illegal possession of firearms and explosives and not while they were exercising their freedom of expression,” Diñoso said.

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TAGS: arrest, Explosives, Release

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