Friday, March 10, 2006

A primer on the petition

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines released a primer today for reporters and others who want to understand the petition in a minute or two. The primer, entitled Primer on the PRESS FREEDOM petition, explains what the petition is all about, as well as its significance and what it wants to achieve. The primer also has the complete list of the media organizations and journalists that signed the petition.

For media organizations or individual journalists that want to support the petition, they can sing it before Wednesday, March 15. They can download a copy of the petition from the NUJP website, and if they are in agreement with it, add their signatures and submit or mail 15 notarized original copies to either the offices of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, the Philippine Press Institute, or NUJP.

Institutions as well as individuals can sign. Institutions will be required to submit notarized board resolutions and secretary’s certificates. Individuals will be required to submit identification."

If you support and uphold press freedom in the country, do join and sign the petition.

Primer on the PRESS FREEDOM petition
Prepared by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines
March 10, 2006

What is the petition?

On March 8, 2006, 36 print and broadcast journalists and nine media groups led by the Philippine Press Institute (PPI), the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and the News and Current Affairs division of network giant ABS-CBN, asked the Court of Appeals (CA) to prohibit executive-branch officials from restraining media reporting and intimidating journalists.

Why is this petition significant?

This is the first time since martial law, and maybe ever, that such a broad range of media organizations and journalists in the Philippines have banded in unity to file a petition in court, questioning media censorship and seeking such relief from the courts.

What does the petition say?

The journalist petitioners said that certain officials of the executive branch, in implementing Presidential Proclamation 1017 and General Order Number 5, and even after the state of national emergency is supposed to have been lifted, acted beyond their authority, gravely abused their discretion, and violated free-press guarantees in the Bill of Rights by imposing content-based prior restraints on the press.

What does the petition ask from the courts?

It asked for two things.

First, it wants the courts to prohibit Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales, PNP Director Arturo Lomibao and National Telecommunications Commission chair Ronald Oliver Solis, and their officers and agents, from censoring publications, or preventing or prohibiting the broadcast of news and commentaries based on content.

The petitioners want the court to prohibit the same persons or their representatives from issuing, or enforcing any issuances or guidelines that infringe on the freedom of the press and expression, or from intimidating the press, publicly or otherwise, with administrative sanctions or criminal prosecution, to stop the media from airing materials that the government judges to be “rebellious”, “seditious”, or “subversive”.

Second, the petitioners also want the courts to annul certain NTC issuances that prohibit the broadcast media from airing news and commentary that is “subversive”, “tends” to incite to treason, rebellion or sedition, or which constitute "rebellious/terrorist propaganda, comments, information, interviews and other similar or related materials."

Specifically, the petitioners seek a temporary restraining order and an injunction.

Why do the petitioners think their move justified?

1. The petition cited the press-freedom guarantees in the Constitution (Article III, Section 4), which provide that no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, expression or of the press. It cited landmark cases and precedents that establish press freedom as standing on higher ground than economic freedoms. Settled jurisprudence saying the need for prior restraint on the media has to be rigorously proved was also cited.

2. The petition argued that the government officials cited above had no lawful authority to censor the media, and that even their public threats and warnings were also unlawful and invalid.

3. The petition specifically questioned the NTC circulars as having been issued with grave abuse of discretion and excess of jurisdiction, and in violation of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution.

4. Finally, the petitioners argued that they saw no other remedy in the ordinary course of the law but to file the petition.

Which court is handling the petition?

It was raffled to the 9th Division of the Court of Appeals, with case number 93529.and titled Philippine Press Institute et al versus Executive Secretary Eduardo R. Ermita et al, for Certiorari, Prohibition, Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction.

Who were signatories to the petition?

Group/Corporate petitioners: Philippine Press Institute (PPI), National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), Newsbreak, Probe Productions, Center for Community Journalism and Development (CCJD), UP College of Mass Communications and ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs Group

Individual petitioners: Fernando A. Abogo, Jr. (news editor, ABS-CBN Channel 2), Danilo A. Arao (UP College of Mass Communications), Ricky Carandang (broadcast journalist, ANC), Arnold Clavio (television and radio news anchor, GMA-7 and DZBB), Shiela Coronel (executive director, PCIJ), Georgina R. Encanto (former dean, UP CMC), Anna Liza Eugenio (senior news editor, ABS-CBN), Federico E. Fernandez (executive producer, Sentro, ABC-5 primetime news), Glenda Gloria (managing editor, Newsbreak), Ana Patricia Hontiveros-Pagkalinawan (current affairs host and news anchor, ANC), Rodney Jaleco (senior news editor, ABS-CBN), Maritess Jimenez (head, News Desk, GMA-7), Jaileen F. Jimeno (program unit manager, Debate, Imbestigador and Lovely Day aired over GMA-7), Ed Lingao (vice president for operations, ABC-5), Jade Lopez (manager for operations, news and public affairs, ABC-5), Jo Ann Maglipon (editor-in-chief of Yes! Magazine and Hi! Magazine and board member of Newsbreak), Malou Mangahas (PCIJ editorial board member, GMA-7 public affairs department training consultant and Debate editorial consultant), Sylvia Mayuga (freelance journalist), Tina Monzon-Palma (news anchor and public affairs host, ANC), Henry Omaga-Diaz (news anchor, ANC), Rowena Paraan (associate editor, Philippine Graphic magazine), Jose Pavia (executive director, Philippine Press Institute), Maria A. Ressa (vice president for news and public affairs, ABS-CBN), Lyn Resurreccion (section editor, Business Mirror), Maria Cristina V. Rodriguez (freelance journalist), Joselito Saracho (news production head, ANC), David Jude Sta. Ana (head of features, ABS-CBN News), Lourdes E. Simbulan (UPCMC), Jessica A. Soho (vice president for news/news director, GMA-7), Maria Lourdes Talosig (associate producer, News Desk, GMA-7), Luis V. Teodoro (columnist, Business Mirror and former dean, UP CMC), Jose Torres (iGMA), Nessa Valdellon (vice president for public affairs, GMA-7), Antonio T. Velasquez (senior correspondent, ABS-CBN News), Rosario S. Villa (head of news gathering, ABS-CBN), Claude Vitug (senior editor, ABS-CBN), and Marites Vitug (editor-in-chief, Newsbreak)

What can media organizations or individual journalists do if they want to support this petition?

They can add their own signatures before Wednesday, March 15. They can download a copy of the petition from the NUJP website, and if they are in agreement with it, add their signatures and submit or mail 15 notarized original copies to either the offices of the Philippine Press Institute, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, or the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, whose addresses can be found at the end of this primer.

Institutions as well as individuals can sign. Institutions will be required to submit notarized board resolutions and secretary’s certificates. Individuals will be required to submit identification.

Media organizations can also closely monitor the developments of this initiative for coverage. For updates, they can send reporters regularly to the petitioner organizations or individuals, or to the offices of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), whose address can also be found at the end of this primer.

Please refer questions to:

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines
105-A Scout Castor, Barangay Laging Handa,
Diliman, Quezon City
Telefax 411-7768
www.nujp.org

Free Legal Assistance Group
2/F Eastside Building, 77 Malakas St
Barangay Pinyahan, Diliman, Quezon City

Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR)
Address: 2/F Ateneo Professional Schools-Salcedo,
#130 HV dela Costa St.,
Makati City 1227
Tel: 894-1326 / 894-1314 / 840-0903
Telefax: 840-0889
Email: staff@cmfr-phil.org
Website: http://www.cmfr-phil.org

2 comments:

Siew Eng from Malaysia said...

thanks for posting this. incredibile mobilisation. keep up the good fight. and all the best!

bryant said...

Dear Siew Eng,

Thank you very much for your support. Let's help each other in fighting for press freedom in the region.

Bryant

 
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