A media group strongly reacted to an Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) statement blaming an ABS-CBN news team over an incident with Chinese military vessels at the West Philippine Sea last Thursday.
Reacting to AFP spokesperson Maj. Gen. Edgar Arevalo’s statement issued Friday, April 9, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) took exception to AFP’s suggestion the incident was caused by the “journalists’ insatiable desire to be ahead in reporting.”
A Chinese Coast Guard and two missile-bearing People’s Liberation Army-Navy boats engaged a civilian Filipino vessel with the news team on board in an extended high-speed chase near Palawan Thursday.
ABS-CBN reporter Chiara Zambrano and her team were headed to Ayungin Shoal in Kalayaan, Palawan and was intercepted by Chinese ships while inside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
Arevalo implied Zambrano was simply hungry for a scoop and did not exercise prudence in doing her job.
“While we understand the journalists’ insatiable desire to be ahead in reporting, we appeal to them to exercise prudence in the course of their job,” Arevalo said.
The NUJP pointed out however that the journalists were on board a civilian boat sailing in Philippine waters and were not doing anything illegal.
“It is almost like the military is asking the Filipino journalists ‘what were you doing there?’” the NUJP said.
“[T]he better question might be aimed at the AFP: What were you not doing there? An even more important question is what the Chinese military was doing in our waters and how the (Rodrigo) Duterte administration plans to address this incident,” the group retorted.
The NUJP said Zambrano and team should instead be praised by the military and the Duterte government instead of being blamed.
“We commend them for going the extra nautical miles to try to get a better perspective on the situation in the West Philippine Sea,”
Chinese presence within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone had been on the news since last month as hundreds of Chinese vessels had been discovered to be overstaying at the Julian Felipe Reef. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)