SEAPA executive director receives award for free expression work
The prestigious TOYM awards, an annual project of the Philippine Jaycees launched in 1959, has given recognition to young Filipino men and women, aged between 18 to 40, "for their selfless dedication or vocation that significantly contributed to the welfare of their countrymen and advancement in various fields."
Bangkok-based Alampay was cited for his work advocating for freedom of expression and helping build the capacities of media groups in the region through SEAPA. He accepted his award while in Manila as part of an international mission looking into the November 23 slaughter of civilians, including 30 journalists, in Maguindanao in the southern Philippines.
"I am home for sobering reasons. This (award) is just a happy coincidence," Alampay told the "Philippine Daily Inquirer". "This is just a validation of the cause of fighting for journalists and press freedom."
In a ceremony at the presidential palace on 8 December, Alampay, wearing a black armband, dedicated the award to the 30 journalists who were massacred and to "other Filipino journalists who have died even before all this happened."
Before last month's massacre, 81 Filipino journalists had been killed in the line of duty, half of them under the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
As executive director of SEAPA, Alampay oversees region-wide campaigns and programmes aimed at defending and protecting press freedom, free expression and access to information in Southeast Asia.
"The brunt of the work is done by the members of the alliance all over the region. I was just lucky to be in the position (of executive director), coordinating all the efforts of SEAPA members. This award is a recognition of the work that the network is doing," he said.
The members of SEAPA are the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) and the Institute for the Study of Free Flow of Information (ISAI) in Jakarta, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) in Manila and the Thai Journalists Association (TJA) in Bangkok.
SEAPA also works with independent media organisations in Malaysia, Cambodia and Timor Leste, and among the exiled Burmese press community.
Alampay, who earlier worked as a reporter for the "Philippine Daily Inquirer", was also special reports editor and editorial writer for the defunct "Today" and editor of the magazine "Flip".