Wednesday, March 15, 2006

We must fight back

It was a good thing that my previous post about the planned search on the premises of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) did not happen. According to NUJP's May Rodriguez, some NUJP members stayed until 11 pm in their office last night, anticipating the arrival of military men. But the soldiers did not come. And it was supposedly a raid, not just a search, May clarified.

But is it really over for the raid on NUJP? Can NUJP and the press in general relax now, since both raids on NUJP and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism were botched?

I think that now is not the time to relax for the press and everyone. The mere fact that these attemps to muzzle the press exist -- the fact that The Daily Tribune was raided (regardless if it is an irresponsible and biased paper), the fact that an award-winning radio program Ngayon na, Bayan was sacked because the radio's producers had "personal political differences" with the station owner Ramon Jacinto (who is the former brother-in-law of First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo), the fact that a critical TV public affairs program Diyos at Bayan was cancelled in QTV-11, the fact that you hear your justice secretary warning ABS-CBN that the administration is monitoring the network's coverage of the Marine standoff, the fact that government officials are threatening the press not following the "standards set by the government -- there is no time perfect than this to fight back against the oppressors of press freedom.

Last night, in their blog, PCIJ's Sheila Coronel talked about the curious circumstances surrounding the search warrant on PCIJ.

Twilight Zone

SOMETHING strange appears to be happening at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, at least in connection with a search warrant that police officials have been seeking against the PCIJ.

Although the QC police have twice asked the courts for a warrant to search the PCIJ office, court officials are denying such applications were made. Neither is there a paper trail to show that the first application made last Friday had been denied.

PCIJ lawyer Sandra Marie Coronel told a Senate inquiry today that Branch 76 of the QC-RTC has denied there were such proceedings. Atty. Coronel was at the QC-RTC following up another case yesterday when she saw elements of the QC police with sound engineer and police asset Jonathan Tiongco applying for the search warrant against PCIJ. She returned to the court today to get copies of the warrant, only to be told there was no such thing.

“Despite the fact that I personally saw the policemen and Mr. Tiongco undergo proceedings on their application for a search warrant, I confirmed today that the statement of the court is that there was never any application. They now claim that there was no application whatsoever for any search warrant against Sheila Coronel and the PCIJ,” Atty. Coronel said at a Senate hearing this afternoon.

What is as bizarre, said Atty. Coronel, was that there was also no record of a warrant having been applied for and denied last Friday, when an application was first made by the QC police. “I likewise checked insofar as the application for a search warrant that was confirmed by a police informant to have been made and denied last Friday and there is likewise no record of any such application,” Coronel said.

For more of Sheila's post, click here.

Is there a conspiracy in the offing, extending beyond the executive department?

An administration that has no respect for the freedom of the press has no respect for its constituents and their freedoms.

No comments:

Blog directory