“A prelude to the proclamation of martial law,” was how Rizal Yuyitung described the ordeal that he and his elder brother Quintin suffered when President Marcos caused them to be arbitrarily deprived of their freedoms, imprisoned for crimes they did not commit, and forced to live in exile for many years.
It is now well-known that Marcos had been scheming for years how to carry out the plan that would ensure his continuing stranglehold on power. In 1970, well before actually imposing one-man rule, he “decided to test the waters with actions against [us], believing that we are the weakest link in the Philippine press,” said Rizal Yuyitung afterwards.
Rizal was the editor-in-chief of the Chinese Commercial News and Quintin was its publisher. Before World War II, it was their father, Yu Yi Tung, who had been the newspaper’s publisher; he was executed by the Japanese in Fort Santiago for refusing to allow it to be used for their propaganda.
Named after the national hero, Rizal was born, raised and educated in the Philippines. An agriculture graduate, he and Quintin revived CNN after the death of their father. Under their leadership, it went on to resume its place as a respected voice of the Chinese-Filipino community.
In keeping with the highest standards of professional journalism, CNN prized its independence as embodied by Yu Yi Tung. But it was tagged “pro-communist” because it had been printing reports translated from western news agencies about developments in what was then tagged as “Red China.”
The Marcos government therefore kidnapped and flew them to Taiwan (which they didn’t recognize as their country, considering themselves Filipino). There they were hastily tried and sentenced to prison: Rizal for three years and Quintin for two.
In persecuting the two brothers, Marcos was toeing an ideological line that was also anti-Chinese – thinking that nobody would care to speak up in their defense. (CNN and the brothers were also strongly advocating for a less difficult process of acquiring Filipino citizenship for ethnic Chinese like them.) But after the Yuyitungs were deported, 170 Filipino journalists, students and academics signed a manifesto in protest. Prominent lawyers and journalists rushed to their side.
By the time Rizal Yuyitung was released from prison in Taiwan, Marcos was already tyrannizing the entire Philippines with his dictatorial rule. Rizal’s wife Veronica had also suffered a period of detention. The couple then decided to live with their children in Canada.
After Marcos’ downfall in 1986, Rizal and Quintin Yuyitung returned to the Philippines and resumed the publication of Chinese Commercial News. Even after their deaths, it continues to exist today.
BORN : September 16, 1922 in Manila
DIED : April 19, 2007 in Toronto, Canada
PARENTS : Yu Yi Tung and Kak Sui Kok
SPOUSE/CHILDREN : Veronica Lim / 7
 See Yvonne T. Chua, “Heroes of Press Freedom: the Father and Sons Yuyitung,” May 6, 2007, Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility.