Bacolod City, Negros Occidental— The former chair of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), journalist Jose Jaime Espina passed away at 9:20 this evening, July 7, his family confirmed.
Nonoy, as called by many, died in his sleep surrounded by his family at their home in Capitol Heights, Brgy. Villamonte of this city at the age of 59.
In a public post on Facebook, his sister Inday Espina-Varona said Nonoy’s death was due to liver cancer.
Nonoy was reunited to his family just recently after he recovered from a severe infection of COVID19. He is survived by his wife, Leny Rojo Espina, his children Mayumi Liwayway Rojo Espina and Daki Ojor Espina.
Varona described Nonoy as a veteran journalist and a fierce advocate of freedoms and human rights. She added: “Like many journalists, he was materially poor. But in his devotion to the profession and our people he was, as Danny Fabella sang, hindi pangkaraniwang tao.”
Nonoy took up humanities in UP Visayas-Iloilo, where he was a member of the Silak fraternity. He became an editor of the online news outfits Inquirer.net and Interaksyon. He was also a correspondent of the defunct Today Newspaper and worked for a time in the Lifestyle magazine of The Manila Standard.
Due to the current quarantine classification of Bacolod City, Varona said there will be no wake, but the family will announce details for memorials soon.
In a Facebook post, NUJP described Nonoy as a press freedom hero worthy of admiration and emulation. It said: “From the Marcos dictatorship until the Duterte administration, he consistently served the Filipino people by upholding the truth.”
Nonoy was among the loudest voices at rallies in support of the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise, leading a march in Quezon City in March 2020 and later joining similar activities in Bacolod City, where he was based, the statement added.
He was also among the first responders at the Ampatuan Massacre in Maguindanao in 2009, NUJP recalled. Through the years he remained vocal in the campaign for justice for the victims, which included 32 media workers. He was also present at commemorations and in activities leading up to the verdict in 2019.
As a founding member of the union, and a member of the directorate for multiple terms, he led the NUJP through waves of attacks and harassment by the government.
NUJP thanked him for his long years of service to the union and the profession and promises to honor him by protecting that prestige.