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July 22, 2018


I love our foreign press. I love that their stories go beyond who, what, when and where to also explore the whys. With a global audience in mind, stories don’t just end with the facts but explore how an event affects universal values like peace, freedom, social progress, equal rights, human dignity.

In 2016, Jason Gutierrez, Vice President of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) wrote a piece in the New York Times that presented then newly-elected President Rodrigo Duterte as a leader who showed no regard for human life as he pursued his War on Drugs. Jason’s piece relayed to the international community the alarming rise in the number of killings since Duterte became president. The story was accompanied by that powerful photo that earlier came out in the Inquirer of a woman in despair, cradling her dead husband after being shot by unidentified men who left a cardboard sign near his body that read “Pusher”. The photo that Duterte himself lambasted in his 2016 SONA.

At our Power Lunch, I found out that Jason received threats after this article was published. To protect himself and his family, he started using the byline Felipe Villamor.

For a while he was careful not to reveal the real identity of Felipe. But, he grins, everyone knew it was him anyway so he now openly acknowledges that Jason and Felipe are the same guy.

Given his decision to no longer hide behind his pen name, I wondered: Does this mean that as compared to 2016 our democracy is now thriving and we can rest assured that we won’t be punished for narrating harsh truths?

No. As we anticipate tomorrow’s SONA, I asked Jason what he thinks the state of the nation is with respect to press freedom.  Jason maintains that it is still under threat.

Watch our Power Lunch to find out why. And to hear what this highly respected journalist has to say about the various issues of the day.

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