Pinoy journalist among ‘100 Information Heroes’

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Sunday, May 4, 2014

A FILIPINO journalist is among the 100 personalities from around the world who were recognized as information heroes for their courageous work or activism that helped promote the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Such right is enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Rowena C. Paraan, chair of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), joined famous and less known persons from 65 countries who made it to the “100 Information Heroes” list prepared by the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RWB) for the observance of World Press Freedom Day.


The list includes Australian Julian Assange who established WikiLeaks in 2006. WikiLeaks has exposed classified information that provided the public a deeper look at how the United States conducted itself in relation to the war in Afghanistan.

Rowena Caranza-Paraan
Rowena Caranza-Paraan, chair of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines. (Photo grabbed from Paraan's Facebook page)

A journalist for more than 25 years now, Paraan was cited for her role in running a media safety program in the country dedicated to increasing the knowledge and skills of news practitioners on handling threats to their lives arising from various conditions inherent in the profession.

In the immediate aftermath of the Maguindanao massacre last November 23, 2009, Paraan led a fact-finding mission that sought to establish the circumstances of the incident which was the worst single attack on the press ever.

“She has constantly pressed the authorities for justice for the (massacre) victims and their families and an end to impunity,” the RWB noted.

Paraan currently runs the citizen journalism initiative Bayan Mo, iPatrol Mo. She used to be research head of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ).

Apart from overseeing the NUJP’s nedia safety program, Paraan also led it in various initiatives, in collaboration with other groups, in pushing for a freedom of information law and in contesting the cybercrime law which criminalizes online libel.

“World Press Freedom Day, which Reporters Without Borders helped to create, should be an occasion for paying tribute to the courage of the journalists and bloggers who constantly sacrifice their safety and sometimes their lives to their vocation,” said a statement from Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire.

“These ‘information heroes’ are a source of inspiration to all men and men who aspire to freedom. Without their determination and the determination of all those like them, it would be simply impossible to extend the domain of freedom,” Deloire added.

Deloire stressed that “the fight for freedom of information requires not only active support for the victims of abuses but also the promotion of those who can serve as models.”

The ‘information heroes’ include women and men of almost all ages (25 to 75) from 65 countries. The youngest, Oudom Tat, is Cambodian, and the oldest, Muhammed Ziauddin, is Pakistani.

Iran, Russia, China, Eritrea, Azerbaijan, Mexico and Vietnam are each represented by at least three heroes, which speaks of the challenge to freedom of expression facing the people in these countries.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on May 04, 2014.


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