Tell it to SunStar: Drop all charges against Frenchie Mae Cumpio

·2 min read

Monday, Feb. 7, 2022 marks community journalist Frenchie Mae Cumpio’s second year in jail. In the middle of her unjust and prolonged detention in Tacloban City, another trumped-up case was filed against our colleague in another trial court.

The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) charged Frenchie Mae and lay worker Mariel Domequil with a non-bailable case of terrorist financing under Republic Act 10168 (The Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012). This is in connection with the money that was supposedly found during their arrest in February 2020.

Catbalogan, Samar Prosecutor Mary Grace Arboladura conducted the preliminary investigation in September 2021 and supposedly found enough evidence to pursue the case.

But the accusation was based entirely on the statements of two questionable witnesses who were presented as rebel returnees. Like many trumped-up charges against critics, the supposed witnesses told fantastic stories about Frenchie and Mariel distributing cash among armed communists in the mountains.

We denounce this new case of legal persecution against Frenchie and Mariel. The case of illegal possession of firearms and explosives against them is still being heard in court and has been unfairly delayed by the unnecessary number of police and army witnesses. Apart from this, a case of civil asset forfeiture is also being heard in a Quezon City trial court.

All these are wrongful charges against our colleague. Frenchie Mae is a credible community journalist and radio anchor in Tacloban City. She has exposed the abuses of the military in communities in Eastern Visayas, written about the struggles of farmers during calamities, reported on the lack of assistance for Yolanda survivors, and many others. These underreported stories should continue to be told and should not be reason to silence journalists like Frenchie Mae.

In her second year of unjust detention, we at the Altermidya Network and the whole community of independent media reaffirm our call: Drop all the charges against Frenchie Mae Cumpio! Hands off independent media! Defend press freedom!

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