Palawan News mourns the passing of Jose Jaime “Nonoy” Espina, former chair of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), who succumbed to cancer on 7 July at the age of 59. Nonoy was more than a friend and colleague to our fledgling newspaper and to many others like us all over the country. He was a true advocate for press freedom and human rights, a believer in the important role community journalists play at this time of critical challenges.
More than being a hard-nosed reporter and editor who earned his spurs in the beats prior to returning to his roots in Bacolod City, Nonoy was an activist for human rights and media welfare. He led street protests and mass actions to assert media freedom and independence and rallied others to do the same. He stood up against the repression of the press and was in the frontlines of the struggle for justice for fallen journalists, including the marquee cases of the Ampatuan Massacre or the Dr. Gerry Ortega murder case, and the protests against the closure of the ABS-CBN franchise and other cases of media harassment by the state.
Nonoy’s contribution to the narrative of the Philippine press essays that of Joe Burgos and the “mosquito press” of the 1980s when Marcos was the dictator of the land holding sway over the establishment media. He was unfazed by the share of harassment and red-tagging that came his way. Nay, he even enjoyed the little pleasures that went with the territory, jamming his favorite song What A Wonderful World a la Louie Armstrong in conferences and socials that he attended. Joe Burgos also adored the same song, according to editor Chuchay Molina who had worked closely with him.
Palawan News will fondly remember Nonoy not only as a friend and colleague but as an inspiration to forge ahead with the principles that he fought for – the practice of independence and integrity in reporting.