Monday, March 13, 2006

A search warrant on PCIJ?

Boy, it looks like the media clampdown continues.

In the upcoming March issue of the Philippine Journalism Review Reports, Mr. Vergel Santos (who serves as the chair of the board of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility) writes that:

".... Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has withdrawn the proclamation (PP 1017) only nominally; the suppressive spirit behind it remains."

Now comes this report from the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), which I am posting in full below. You can also access this report in the PCIJ blog. Earlier, I got the tip that PCIJ was going to be searched, along with two other hard-hitting publications.

Keep vigilant guys.

Search warrant on PCIJ

LATE this afternoon, three members of the Central Police District, accompanied by sound engineer Jonathan Tiongco, asked a Quezon City judge to issue a warrant that will allow the police to search the office of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), apparently in connection with a charge of inciting to sedition.

The PCIJ received confirmation of the application from well-placed sources in the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) and the Quezon City Police. Court and police sources say that an earlier application for a search warrant was turned down last Friday by another Quezon City judge. This apparently prompted the police and Tiongco to apply today for a search warrant with another judge, Alan Balot of RTC Branch 76.

Alerted by the PCIJ, journalists from various media organizations waited outside Balot’s office while the hearing for the search warrant, which began at about 4:30 p.m., lasted past office closing hours this afternoon. The judge emerged from his office at about 5:30 p.m, but refused to talk to reporters. Interviewed by GMA-7 reporter Sandra Aguinaldo, Tiongco only said that the hearing had been cancelled. The clerk of court, meanwhile, told Aguinaldo that the there was no hearing, only an application for a search warrant.

The PCIJ and other journalists have been unable to confirm whether the judge granted the request for a warrant. But some court sources say that the presence of journalists prevented the warrant’s issuance today.

Click here for more.

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