The design of the NUJP’s “Masked Media” face mask (image courtesy of the NUJP)

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines recently launched an online fundraising drive to help defend journalists and press freedom in the country.

Called “Masked Media”, the NUJP aims to raise the fund through the sales of specially designed face masks worth P150 sold through the association’s Shopee and Lazada stores.

The face mask features an image of a hand colored red covering newspaper articles and seemingly covering the wearers mouth, symbolizing the continued attack on press freedom in the country.

The NUJP said the funds to be raised from the sales will go to the organization’s “Defense Fund for Filipino Journalists.”

“Ang Masked Media ay isang fundraising project sa pamamagitan ng pagbenta ng nakalakip na mask. Ang pondo na malilikom ay mapupunta sa Defense Fund for Filipino Journalists,” the NUJP said.

“Join the Masked Media movement. Get your own mask for only PHP 150, all the proceeds will go the Defense Fund for Filipino Journalists,” it added.

The journos union also gave its Metrobank account for those who would like to make cash donations instead.

The NUJP officially launched the Masked Media campaign at an onsite rally in Quezon City in commemoration of the 48th anniversary of Martial Law yesterday.

It also promoted the hashtags #DefendYourRight2Know and #DefendPressFreedom to promote the drive.

In another statement, the journalists’ union said the Duterte administration’s “renewed efforts” against the press is akin to the  martial law regime of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos where the free press was shut down for nearly 20 years.

“One of the first things the dictator did was to shut down the free press, replacing it with a crony press that churned out lies about the “New Society” and totally ignoring the atrocities committed by his regime against the people,” NUJP said.

“Today, we launch the “Masked Media” campaign, not just to remember that dark incident in our history but also to send out the message that today, we face the same renewed efforts by another government, one led by an unabashed fan of Marcos, to suppress freedom of the press and pervert the truth,” it added.

Last July, the country’s largest broadcaster ABS-CBN permanently signed off the air after majority of lawmakers denied the network’s application for a fresh franchise.

Economists believed that it caused a rippling effect to the economy after thousands of workers across the country lost their jobs due to the permanent shutdown of ABS-CBN’s radio, television and digital businesses.

NUJP highlighted its commitment to defend press freedom and the public’s right for information.

“Today, we renew our commitment to defend press freedom by serving the people’s right to know. Let our vow be: A free press for a free people,” it said.

Several reporters, photographers and journalists joined the movement among them’s Editor-at-Large and Pulitzer Prize winner for Journalism Manuel Mogato, veteran journalist Inday Espina-Varona and GMA News reporter Atom Araullo.

A day after the masks went on sale, the NUJP said the masks are not out of stock due to high demand.

NUJP President Nonoy Espina said demand for the masks has far outpaced the supply. He added that they have already contacted their partners to increase production to keep up with the demand.  Rommel F. Lopez