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NUJP beefs up alert and response system for media victims of violence and harassments ahead of mid-term polls

In a bid to be more efficient and effective in responding to continued attacks on media practitioners, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) has strengthened and expanded its regional safety offices throughout the country.

As the country heads for mid-term elections in May, the NUJP media alert system and on-call safety officers become doubly important and necessary as pens, laptops, cellphones and cameras in news gathering.

It is during elections that attacks on media practitioners are unusually high.

The Ampatuan massacre that happened in 2009 was the worst election-related mass murder of media persons in history.

From one safety unit in NCR until the middle of last year, NUJP has extended its reach to four other regions, namely, Luzon, Visayas, Eastern and Western Mindanao.

The Regional Safety Officers form part of NUJP alert and response support services for journalists in distress.

Incidents where reporters, photographers and other members of media are harassed, threatened or killed in the line of duty are reported to NUJP through its hotlines.

The first responder verifies and documents reported incidents and issues alert advisory to news media.

NUJP has also beefed up the number of media safety officers to a total of five, one for each region.

Each responder is on call 24-7 and can be reached thru the ff hotline numbers: (best to graphics) Regional Safety offices

Eastern Mindanao

Globe 09453503459

Smart 09398475242

Western Mindanao

Globe 09453503455

Smart 09398475177

Visayas

Globe 09453503456

Smart 09398475195

Luzon

Globe 09453513454

Smart 09398475174

NCR

Globe 09175155991

Smart 09398475329

The NUJP Safety office has also announced a series of safety trainings for media practitioners up to 2019.

In November 2018, the Freedom for Media Freedom for All documented a total of 99 media attacks from July 2016 to October, 2018.

The Freedom for Media Freedom for All is composed of Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism and NUJP. #

NUJP launches campaign against reporters’ involvement in drug war

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, along with other media organizations, launched the ‘Sign Against the Sign’ campaign on Friday, urging Congress to repeal the law that includes journalists among the possible witnesses in anti-drug operations.

Journalists and industry leaders signed a manifesto calling for an end to the practice of making journalists witnesses to drug-bust operations, which has put a number of them in danger.

NUJP Chairperson Nonoy Espina explained that media groups have consistenly opposed this practice when it was made a requirement under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

While the law has since been amended by Republic Act No. 10640, enacted in 2014, Espina said media colleagues especially those from the provinces have reported that law enforcement units continue to require them to become witnesses, often as a condition for being allowed to cover operations.

Espina noted that as a result of this, some joirnalist have found themselves at risk of retaliation from crime syndicates.

“One of our colleages from Zamboanga del Norte has been receiving death threats from an accused drug dealer because she testified as witness in the operation. She didnt’ even want her name to be revealed because of fear. This has to stop,” Espina said.

He added that another journalist from the Visayas who regularly signed on as witness to drug inventories found himself included in a drug watchlist.

Aside from the issue of physical safety, the practice also exposes journalists to prosecution for perjury and other offenses in the event of irregularities in the conduct of anti-drug operations.

Espina said that while journalists can decline to serve as witnesses, they risk being isolated from their police sources or even normal channels of information.

“To ensure that this practice is ended once and for all, we urge Congress to craft legislation or amend the existing law,” Espina said.

The group plans to dialogue with Philippine National Police, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, and lawmakers to discuss the proposed legislation.

 

Acting as drug war witnesses endangers journalists—NUJP

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) launched an online petition asking that journalists be spared from acting as witnesses in the government’s so-called anti-drug war.

In its petition on change.org, the NUJP called on law enforcement units to immediately end the practice of requiring journalists to sign as witnesses to the inventory of contraband and other items seized during anti-drug operations.

“Our opposition to this practice stems from the fact that it unnecessarily places journalists at risk of retaliation from crime syndicates, on the one hand, and also exposes them to prosecution for perjury and other offenses in the event of irregularities in the conduct of anti-drug operations,” the NUJP said.

Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, requires witnesses to these anti-drug operations from a representative of the Department of Justice, the media, and an elected public official.

The law was subsequently amended by Republic Act No. 10640, enacted in 2014, which made witnessing optional between a representative of the National Prosecution Service and the media.

NUJP however reported that law enforcement units continue requiring media workers to sign on as witnesses, often as a condition for being allowed to cover operations.

“Worse, there are reports that they are made to sign even if they did not actually witness the operation or the inventory of seized items. Those who decline can find their sources or the normal channels of information no longer accessible,” NUJP said.

The group urged Congress to further amend the law to completely free journalists from the practice.

NUJP said it is willing to dialogue with the Philippine National Police, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and Congress to discuss guidelines, ground rules and other procedural issues concerning coverage of their operations. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Pooled Editorial | Journalists denounce police intimidation and harassment in Kidapawan coverage

AlterMidya, a nationwide network of independent media organizations, denounces police intimidation and attempts to suppress information by preventing journalists from covering the aftermath of the April 1 Kidapawan massacre.

The Cotabato police set up a checkpoint outside the Spottswood United Methodist Center where the protesting farmers retreated after Friday’s violent dispersal. Setting up a checkpoint arbitrarily is already questionable, but preventing journalists from covering an issue of public concern and requiring them to register with the police before entering the church compound is even more reprehensible. The police even denied entry to reporters who have already registered at the checkpoint, according to our colleagues from radio outfit RCPA Davao last April 3.

The media were also prevented from interviewing those victims of the dispersal who were in police custody. Hospital officials reportedly informed the media that there were “orders from the police and municipal government” not to allow reporters to interview the victims. The police also refused to provide information on one of the dead victims, whose body was held by the police for autopsy and whom they claimed tested positive for powder burns using an outdated paraffin test.

On Saturday afternoon, reporters of 783 Radyo ni Juan were harassed by policemen deployed near the Spottswood Methodist Center. Policemen sand “One (Juan) Radio, one month na lang mo.” (One Radio, you’ve only got one month left.)

During the violent dispersal, Kilab journalist Jaja Necosia was also among those hurt when the police stoned the protesters. Necosia was wearing his press ID and taking photos of advancing police when he was hit. Davao Today correspondent Danilda Fusilero was also arrested by the police while she was covering the dispersal. Two police officers handcuffed Fusilero and accused her of being among the protesters. They removed her handcuffs only after she showed the police her press ID and was vouched for by a former North Cotabato official.

Media groups like the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines have condemned police harassment, intimidation and repression of journalists covering the Kidapawan massacre. But state security forces have been subjecting journalists to more and more violence when covering protests, putting in jeopardy their safety and the media’s critical role in gathering information on matters of public concern.

AlterMidya is therefore calling for an immediate and impartial investigation into both the violence the police unleashed against the farmer-protesters and media, as well as to stop the continuing and worsening harassment and attacks against the demonstrators and our fellow media practitioners. We also urge all journalists and journalist groups, media advocacy organizations, and press freedom advocates to defend the Constitutional right of the press to provide the public the information on political, social and other issues that it urgently needs.

For reference: Prof Luis V. Teodoro, AlterMidya National Chairperson