The Manila Times senior reporter Joel Egco was elected president of the National Press Club (NPC) on Sunday, the first Muslim to head the organization.
The former NPC director got 340 votes. Yul Malicse, his lone opponent, got 35 votes. Egco will have a two-year term.
Benny Antiporda of Remate ran unopposed in the position of vice president. So did new NPC secretary, Tina Maralit of Manila Bulletin, treasurer Mina Diaz of Herald and Rolando Gonzalo of UNTV/DWIZ as auditor.
Elected members of the board of directors were William Depasupil of The Manila Times; Arlie Calalo and Alvin Murcia of The Daily Tribune; Leonel Abasola of Balita/Manila Bulletin; Nats Taboy and Robert Ricohermoso of Remate; Jean Fernando and Roniel de Guzman of Manila Bulletin; Jun Mendoza of Philippine Star; and Paul Gutierrez of People’s Tonight.
Egco disclosed that he aims to transform the NPC into a more active club. Running under the banner, UNLI (United, Legitimate and Integrity) service, his group is composed of active media practitioners.
”I shall lead by the collective wisdom of the board and base my decisions on my own free will, values and disposition. I shall side with what is just and true and not be dictated upon by anyone or anything,” he said.
”Together we shall carry on and put the NPC in its rightful place in our society. Ours will be the loudest voice the world will hear when press freedom is challenged. We are UNLI— journalists who are United, Legitimate and with Integrity. We are the new NPC,” Egco added.
To encourage fellowship among NPC members, he said they plan to reopen the club’s famed “Bar and Restaurant.”
”The revival of the ‘Bar and Restaurant’ is a valid and long-standing demand by the members and we are committed to it,” the new NPC president stressed.
He said the NPC shall remain as the country’s bastion of press freedom “thru active engagement with all stakeholders on all media-related issues.”
”While restoring the club’s reputation as a social club of active journalists, we shall not also waver in our commitment to defend press freedom and to address issues facing journalists such as media killings and acts of violence against members of the Philippine press,” Egco added.
The NPC is a professional and social organization of journalists in the Philippines. It was incorporated on October 29, 1952 through the initiative of newspaperman \o “Teodoro Valencia” Teodoro Valencia, who became its first president.
The NPC was founded to “uphold freedom of the press and the dignity of the newspaperman’s profession.” It provides help to members of the media and their families, who are vulnerable to libel suits or even assassination attempts.
The club polices its own ranks and reprimands abusive media practitioners, especially those who engage in so-called “envelopmental journalism,” but it also provides legal assistance to those who are sued because of legitimate criticism.
When it was first established, broadcast journalism, especially television journalism, was not yet developed. Thus, the original members of the organization consisted only of journalists in print media. Now, NPC includes radio and television journalists.
The NPC has fraternal relations with international journalist organizations, and is an active member of the Confederation of Asean Journalists.
Egco, who embraced Islam years ago, is the first Muslim to head the NPC. He fulfilled his Hajj, one of the five pillars of the Muslim religion, in 2012. He assumed the name Hajji Yusuf Jubair.
He was a three-term president of the Defense Press Corps and held lower positions in the defunct Congressional Press Club and the Philippine National Police Press Corps.
He first ran for director of the NPC in 2006 under the banner of the Press Freedom Party. While serving his first term, Egco was also elected President of the Department of the Interior and Local Government Press Corps and the Quezon City Press Club in 2007.
In his second term, he represented the NPC in the Board of the Confederation of Asean Journalists in 2009, a position he held until his appointment as CAJ Secretary General in November 2013.
Egco started his career in the media as researcher-writer for the defunct Business Star in August 1994.
When the paper left the Star Group of Companies later that year, he was promoted to reporter covering Malacanang, Senate and House of Representatives under the paper’s new name, The Business Daily.
He transferred to the Manila Standard in 1997 where he was assigned to cover political beats before being sent to the Justice beat. In 1999, Egco went to the Defense beat where he covered the campaigns against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the military offensives against the Abu Sayyaf. He left the Standard in 2009 and accepted the post of News Editor of Commuter Express, a free paper.
Egco joined The Manila Times in January 2011 as Assignments Editor and Chief of Reporters. After a three-year stint at the desk, he asked to be assigned to the Malacanang beat as the paper’s Senior Reporter.