Monday, February 27, 2006

Martial law is here again?

Sheila Coronel writes in the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism blog:

"The police today forwarded to the Department of Justice two lists containing the names of a total of 59 individuals, including members of leftist party-list groups, leaders of the communist party and renegade soldiers, that it said were guilty of rebellion and insurrection 'committed on February 24, 2006,' the day President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo announced she had preempted an attempted coup and declared a state of emergency.

"The list, however, does not include Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim, who the military said was a leader of the aborted attempted "withdrawal of support" from the Arroyo government that took place last Friday. Also excluded from the list is Col. Ariel Querubin, the commander of the 1st Marine Brigade, who admitted in yesterday’s standoff at Fort Bonifacio that he had intended to join last Friday’s protests.

"Instead, the lists, contained in two letters sent today by the Philippine National Police (PNP) Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM) to Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales, indicates mainly a crackdown on the legal Left and the communist party. And while there were only 59 on these lists, the police also included "others who may be identified later." The PNP letters came with investigation records on the named individuals, who they said were guilty of violations of Articles 134 and 135 of the Revised Penal Code, which penalizes rebellion, insurrection and coup d’etat — all nonbailable offenses punishable with life imprisonment."

(For the rest of the entry, click here.)

Given the intensified crackdown on these so-called destabilizers/coup plotters who allegedly want to overthrow the Arroyo administration, I won't be surprised to see journalists and media organizations being added to the list.

Whoa. It's like martial law all over again.


Anonymous said...

I totally understand the media raising an alarm on martial rule, etc. What I think, though, is that we are paying the price for press adventurism. The media guard with utmost zealousness their constitutionally-protected right of free speech.

I hope they would put the same effort in protecting their cardinal credo: objectivity. You get the idea?

The media does not like to receive a beating that comes from outside their ranks, and raises hell when criticisms are exacted towards them. But they do not like to lift a finger to police their ranks.

Papers like Tribune, one that makes no apologies about its stand on the political issues of country is left to flourish and spit personal opinions of the publisher (Ninez Cacho), calls herself a journalist, and voila! She walks around with he veil of protection brought about by free speech.

The right to free press, to me, is sacred. The journalists, among themselves, must also guard it from people who don the journalist badge while doing a modern-day Joseph Goebbels.


bryant said...

@ crimsonarrows.

I don't think that the press overreacted with the way it responded to the PP 1017. After all, the proclamation is almost copied and pasted from Proclamation 1081 during Marcos time, where the democratic institutions we had were destroyed.

More importantly, the press was just right in its condemnation of the proclamation. Media serves the public. It acts as a public steward -- that's why the press is often called the "watchdog" of the government and the public. If the government is able to muzzle the press, then who would serve as the watchdog for the public? If the government was indeed able to muzzle the press, then who would stop the government from doing the same to the ordinary citizens?

I totally understand and share your concern that media should be responsible, i.e. that is being objective in its reports. But, you see, the problem is, how can the press do that if it is not free and limited to what the State defines as news that is acceptable?

Like any institutions in a working democracy such as the Philippines, the press here in the country is not perfect. And journalists, especially the well-meaning ones, know that. Sensationalism, irresponsibility, corruption, lack of journalistic training, among others -- these are some of the nagging problems journalists face here in the Philippines. But journalists are trying to address these problems. Believe me. Although there may be journalists out there who are irresponsible in their reports, there are certainly those who report issues well, following the basic journalistic values of accuracy, balance, and fairness.

Yes, we in the press want to be objective and balanced in reporting the news. But before we can be able to do that, we must be first free in reporting the hidden and half-naked truths in our society. If the press is not free to report anything critical about the government, then it is a press bereft of dignity and credibility.

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