Jose Jaime “Nonoy” Espina, 59

CMFR File Photo

JOSE JAIME “Nonoy” Espina, a veteran journalist and fierce advocate of press freedom, died in his home in Bacolod City after battling liver cancer on Wednesday night, July 7, with his family around him. He was 59 years old. 

Espina’s leadership of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) established his place at the forefront of the country’s fight for press freedom and the safety of journalists. A founding member of NUJP,  he served as its director for several terms before his election as chairman from 2018 to 2021. He turned over the post at the NUJP general assembly early this year. 

Espina started his career while a student, as editor of Pagbutlak, the official student publication of UP Visayas in Iloilo City. He later joined the community media group Correspondents, Broadcasters and Reporters Association—Action News Service, or COBRA-ANS, which was part of the “mosquito press” during the Marcos dictatorship.

Based in Bacolod, he worked as correspondent for the international news site Benar News, an affiliate of Radio Free Asia, for Today Newspaper, the Lifestyle magazine of The Manila Standard and as a senior editor for InterAksyon

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) awarded him the Marcelo H. Del Pilar Award in 2019, the highest honor that the organization gives its alumni.

Under Espina’s  leadership, NUJP organized rallies in support of media organizations targeted by the Duterte administration such as Rappler and ABS-CBN. He was red-tagged himself as he actively engaged in the push-back against attacks and threats against journalists, especially as these targeted  members of the community press. 

In recent years, as representative of NUJP in the regional Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) and in the national network Freedom for Media Freedom for All (FMFA), Nonoy fully engaged in building a united front among organizations working on the issues of the press. 

Espina is survived by his wife, Leny, and his children Mayumi, Liwayway and Daki Espina.  His siblings include another journalist, Inday Espina Varona.