Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The right thing to do

In a time when the government has shown that it will do anything to survive and cling to power at the expense of civil liberties including freedom of the press and of expression, it is only right that journalists fight back. Given the current political context we have right now--where the government has proven it will not mind curtailing press freedom and human rights especially since the Hello, Garci scandal broke out--to fight back and defend press freedom is the only fitting thing to do.

To fight back for a free press is a fight not only for the benefit of the press itself, but for the benefit of the whole public, which deserves true, informed, transparent, and honest service from the press.

A group of ABS-CBN journalists has asked the Supreme Court yesterday to declare their arrest illegal and to protect them and other journalists from future government harassment. Here's the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility alert on the issue as posted in the website of the Southeast Asian Press Alliance:

Philippine journalists seek court protection from government harassment
21 January 2008
Source: Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR)

Eleven journalists from the Philippines' biggest television network arrested for covering the November 2007 stand-off between security forces and 20-odd soldiers at the Manila Peninsula Hotel have asked the Philippine Supreme Court to declare their arrest illegal and to protect them and other journalists from future government harassment.

Led by senior correspondent Ces OreƱa Drilon, employees of media giant ABS-CBN who were among those arrested in the 29 November incident filed a petition for a "writ of amparo and prohibition" seeking protection from government "threats of future warrantless arrests, and acts of harassment against petitioners and other journalists, in the course or in consequence of the performance of their work, such as in the coverage of breaking news events similar to the Manila Peninsula stand-off".

Read more here. To review what happened in the Manila Peninsula siege, please read the main story of the December 2007 issue of the the PJR Reports.

Now, CMFR, along with other media groups and journalists are planning to file a class suit to protect press freedom. According to Malaya columnist Ellen Tordesillas--who was also among the 50 media people arrested shortly after the siege had ended--the suit filed by the ABS-CBN journalists and media practitioners is just the first of several suits media are planning to file.

The actions and plans taken by the press came after the government and police officials have warned of future arrests of journalists if they defied police orders while covering similar events. The most recent was a Jan. 11 "media advisory" by the Department of Justice, which said media organizations would be "criminally liable" if their reporters did not obey the orders of government authorities at the site of emergencies. The "advisory" was followed by a police declaration that they would use force to remove journalists from such sites should they refuse to leave. For more information about this, click here and here.

1 comment:

Heidimonologues said...

Does the writ of amparo cover the rights of the media? I thought it was made solely to protect the ativists and militants from extra judicial killings... I'm learning so much again from you, ex-boss. haha. I'll make it a habit to read your posts. =)

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