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NUJP members climb Mt. Pulag for press freedom

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Local journalists here on Sunday scaled Luzon's highest mountain to bring closer to the gods their messages of upholding press freedom and stopping the killing of media practitioners. Twenty members of the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines-Northern Luzon chapter climbed Mt. Pulag in Kabayan, the acknowledged playground of the gods of the indigenous Ibaloy tribe. Kathleen Okubo, an Ibaloy journalist and vice-chair of NUJP Baguio Benguet, said that they want to drum up the depressing state of press freedom in the country. "Being journalists, we would also like to see the situation of ecological degradation in Mt. Pulag," she said. Mt. Pulag has one of the most diverse biodiversity of the country with the dwarf bamboo, the Cordillera cloud rat and the Koch pitta bird among its endangered denizens. Commercial vegetable production, however, has started to encroach on the sacred mountain. At the summit, the NUJP members unfurled their banners, "Stop Killing Journalists" and "Uphold Press Freedom." "The government is not listening. Maybe the gods will," Okubo said. Through the Institute of War and Peace Reporting, NUJP-BB and other local journalists underwent a re-orientation of human rights reporting early this month. A tenth of the killing and violence against journalists in the country happened in northern Luzon, said editor Art Allad-iw. "Baguio has a vigilant history of fighting for press freedom because most of the older journalists were activists then," said Okubo. - GMANews.TV