Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists
The Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists (FFFJ), is a coalition of six media organizations formed in 2003 with the purpose of addressing the numerous attacks against journalists and news organizations in the Philippines. The FFFJ also provides financial assistance to the families of slain journalists, as well as legal support in the prosecution of their cases.
On May 13, 2002, the managing editor of the Filipino weekly newspaper Zamboanga Scribe, Edgar Damalerio, was shot dead. Damalerio was a hard-hitting newspaper editor, award-winning radio commentator and television host. His alleged assassin, however, remains free because the wanted man is a police officer, and the police apparently protects its own. Damalerio’s son was only a five-month old baby when the journalist was killed and, while there was a good chance to prosecute the suspect in this case, Gemma, Damalerio’s widow, did not have the means to take the first steps in filing a case in court. This case highlighted the need for a fund aimed at helping victims of violence and the families they leave behind.
Thus, the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists, Inc. was launched on January 7, 2003, in an attempt to seek support for cases like this as well as to promote public advocacy for the protection of journalists.
The FFFJ members are the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), the Philippine Press Institute (PPI), the Center for Community Journalism and Development, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP or Association of Broadcasters of the Philippines), and the California-based newspaper The Philippine News. The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility serves as its secretariat.
FFFJ’s commitment has signaled a new level of advocacy that could turn a new page in press freedom protection. Using CMFR’s data-base on killings, the group has enlarged the forum for discussion of the problem and hopes to promote awareness about the problem within the media community as well as the general public.
Among the objectives of the Fund are:
- to raise funds and receive donations for the protection of journalists under threat
- to provide immediate assistance to the families of journalists killed in the line of duty
- to act as a support group for journalists in distress by, among other means, forming quick-response teams to investigate and report attacks against journalists, and
- to follow up the prosecution of cases involving attacks against journalists.
FFFJ’s advocacy promotes responsible journalism as a way of protecting journalists.
Actions and Projects
As an organization, FFFJ has been consistently monitoring the actions regarding follow-ups on the cases of murdered journalists. They have issued statements and written to authorities. It was also through the FFFJ's efforts that on Nov. 7, 2003, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo announced that the government was offering a reward of P1 million for the capture of the killer of journalists in the last five years (from 1998 to 2003).
On September 2003, FFFJ released Staying Alive, a handbook which provides safety information for journalists which was distributed to journalists during a joint CMFR-KBP workshop on monitoring attacks on press freedom and reporting alerts. The handbook includes instructions on precautionary measures to take when reporting in conflict areas and what one can do in the face of physical attacks and threats. It also emphasizes the importance of ethical reporting.
FFFJ also works in coordination with international groups such as International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX), Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), Article XIX, and the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), providing them information on cases in the Philippines which they follow and take up as cases for special advocacy.
- "FFFJ at Freedom Watch" http://cmfr-phil.blogspot.com/ (accessed on 16 Nov 2007)
- "FFFJ at Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility" http://cmfr-phil.org/_fffj/fffj.html (accessed on 16 Nov 2007)
- "A Dangerous Place to be a Journalist" http://www.pcij.org/stories/2002/journkills.html (accessed on 16 Nov 2007)