Sunday, November 06, 2005

A serious blow to the much-vaunted press freedom in the Philippines

Is the country really creeping back to another authoritarian rule?

The Quezon City Regional Trial Court has issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) on November 4 to remove from its blogsite a post last August 12 on the background information and credibility of Jonathan Tiongco, the "audio expert" who was presented on the same day by Environment Secretary Michael Defensor in a forum questioning the authenticity of the "Hello Garci" tapes.

"This is the first legal action, and the first TRO, issued against a blog in the Philippines," according to PCIJ in its post on the issue.

For more information about the issue, read the post in the PCIJ blog.

Is the administration that desperate?

This is a serious blow to the freedom of the press in the country. Do people still remember that we have Article III, Section IV in our present Constitution that guarantees the freedom of the press?

Article III, Section IV states that "No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the Government for redress of grievances."

The TRO also gives us a peek of the government would view blog sites in the near future.The Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres) a Paris-based global press freedom advocacy group, identifies bloggers as the “new heralds of free expression” and the blogs “vanguard of new information revolution.” What would be the effect of the TRO in the local blogosphere? Would you blame me for thinking that the government would try to pressure blogs to tone down, if not stop anti-GMA posts? Would a court ruling banning the "Hello, Garci" tapes be that far behind?



Anonymous said...

is martial law just around the corner? *shivers*


bryant said...

Probably it has crept nearer than we all thought.

Jon Limjap said...

I actually found merit in the complaint filed by Tiongco's wife. In it she appealed "right to privacy", wherein the PCIJ report disclosed a little bit too many personal details: the names of his children, where they study, where they live, stuff like that. That part of his life is irrelevant vis-a-vis his credibility as an "audio expert" or as a player in the "Hello Garci" controversy.

Edwin Lacierda said...

Just to clarify. It was not the Supreme Court that issued the TRO, just the RTC of Quezon City

bryant said...

Correction noted. Thank you so much.

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