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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)

NUJP Statement: On showcasing PNP’s ‘good deeds’

8 October 2018

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines is concerned about a directive to police units nationwide to implement a communications program that has seen law enforcers visiting media outfits to seek “partnerships” to “showcase the PNP’s good deeds.”

We have obtained a copy of a directive issued to the Cebu City police dated October 2 that “pertains to the optimal use of various media platforms to enhance the PNP’s operational capability” and is based on the “verbal instruction of CPNP,” meaning PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde.

While it does not explain how the police should use media to enhance their capability, the directive orders them to “coordinate with local media outlets within your AOR and embark on partnership programs/activities to showcase the PNP’s good deeds” and is “for strict compliance.”

The memo to the Cebu PNP also reminds police personnel to “always stay composed and steadfast in the performance of their sworn duty to serve and protect” and “to always observe proper decorum at all times and refrain from being swayed by emotions in spite of the countless pressures and stresses that they may encounter in the performance of their duty as police officers.”

Apparently as a result of Albayalde’s order, our Bacolod City chapter has confirmed that policemen visited the local office of the SunStar daily asking for positive coverage because most of the news about the PNP lately has supposedly been negative. Other news outlets in the city were also visited.

Colleagues in Cebu City also confirmed similar visits to the main office of the SunStar newspaper chain and at least one radio station.

More worrisome is that the visiting lawmen actually took photos of the staff at the SunStar Bacolod office without asking permission first and, reportedly, also at the Cebu radio station.

NUJP members in Batangas also reported that the PNP in the province now refuses them access to spot reports, citing a so-called directive from the national headquarters. They are only being given press releases that only cite their “accomplishments” in a clear effort to dictate how the local media report on police activities.

To be fair, there is nothing wrong about wanting good press.

However, it is one thing to cover the PNP’s accomplishments, and the media have never been remiss about giving credit where it is due. It is a totally different matter, though, to seek to recruit the media in a campaign meant to spruce up the service’s image.

The truth is, the best way – the only way, in fact – for the PNP to improve its standing and earn the public’s trust is simply to fulfil its sworn duty to serve and protect the citizenry. It fails to do so and no amount of image building can hope to succeed.

THE NUJP NATIONAL DIRECTORATE

NUJP-Batangas slams PNP’s policy on no media access to spot reports

By Lottie Salarda / NUJP Media Safety Office

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines-Batangas Chapter slammed a new Philippine National Police (PNP) Regional Office IV-A policy disallowing members of the local media to access spot police reports “unless a clearance is secured from its national headquarters.”

The policy has been enforced since June 19, 2018, the local media group said.

NUJP Batangas said they were notified through the official email address of Batangas PNP.

Marlon Luistro, GMA Network’s stringer in Batangas said he was informed by Batangas PNP PIO Police Senior Inspector Hazel Luma-ang Suarez that the prohibition is in accordance with existing national policy.

 “Lahat ng police stations (ng Batangas), ayaw magbigay ng police report. Itinuturo lahat sa PIO nila. Hindi nagbibigay ng information ang Chiefs of Police nila. Nagtataka kami bakit hindi nila binibigay iyon. Yung ibinibigay lang nila ay yung mga press release ng mga accomplishments nila,” Luistro said.

“Sa bago nilang policy hindi na namin naibabalita ang ibang nangyayari, katulad ng stabbing, shooting incident at iba pa,” Luistro added.

Luistro learned, however, that there is no such policy in place in other provinces.

Batangas journalists wrote to Chief PNP Police Director General Oscar Albayalde last September 24 to seek clarification but have yet to receive a reply.

They have also requested a dialogue with Albayalde as well as Batangas and Calabarzon police directors.

Upon learning of their letter to the Chief PNP, PSI Suarez called Luistro on his cellphone asking why Luistro’s group brought the issue before the office of the Chief PNP.

Luistro told Suarez that they only wanted clarification on the new policy from Albayalde himself. #

NUJP: Let ethics always be our guide

This week, media took a huge, self-inflicted hit at a time when the industry and individual journalists continue to be vilified and threatened by those who would seek to undermine the profession of truth to advance their nefarious agenda.
Recently, some radio stations were monitored to have posted on their social media assets lewd pictures obviously grabbed from other accounts, like one of a couple having sex on a tomb in a cemetery, and using these to engage with their followers.
And then, in General Santos City, the station manager and news director of the local station of the Bombo Radyo network were reported to have been arrested in an entrapment on Tuesday by the National Bureau of Investigation as they received a down-payment of the P10 million they had allegedly demanded to end critical commentary against a company that was, itself, being questioned by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
If the alleged extortion is proven true, this, along with the lewd images, would deal a major blow to the media even as we have continuously strived to raise professional and ethical standards.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines is deeply saddened by these incidents and concerned about how they will affect media safety in a country that remains among the most dangerous places to practice our profession.
Never, since the Marcos regime, have media been so badly under siege as today, under President Rodrigo Duterte, who, on the eve of his assumption to office, justified media killings by declaring: “Just because you’re a journalist you are not exempted from assassination if you’re a son of a bitch.”
Since then, media outfits and individual colleagues have been assailed and threatened by Duterte while colleagues continue to report intense harassment, including death threats, from his supporters.
One of the latest incidents happened just this week when former NUJP director, Julile Alipala of Zamboanga City, was tagged a “terrorist” by a dubious Facebook account over her reporting on the deaths of seven young men in Sulu who the military claimed were Abu Sayyaf fighters but whose relatives maintain were massacred civilians.
In the face of increasing risks, independent Filipino journalists continue to serve the people by delivering the vital information with which they can decide their individual and collective future, sustained by the knowledge our work is honorable and informed by the highest ethical and professional standards.
It may be argued that these recent incidents are isolated. Nevertheless, they undermine the entire profession and provide more ammunition for those who would seek to silence us.
The NUJP strongly urges the managements of broadcast networks to strengthen their ranks. We also call on our partners in the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas to ensure that the highest broadcast standards are observed at all times. Let us work together towards this.
We owe this to ourselves and to the people that we serve.
The National Directorate

Pahayag ng mga pamilya ng mga biktima ng Ampatuan Massacre tungkol sa panandaliang paglaya ni Zaldy Ampatuan

Agosto 23, 2018

Kaming mga naiwang pamilya ng 32 mamamahayag na kabilang sa 58 kataong walang awang pinaslang sa Ampatuan massacre noong November 23, 2009, ay kinokondena ang naging desisyon ng Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 na payagang makalabas ng kulungan at dumalo sa kasal ng kanyang anak ang isa sa mga akusado na si Zaldy Ampatuan.

Labis na nagdurugo ang aming mga puso at sumasabog sa galit ang aming mga damdamin sa pagsasawalang bahala na ito ng korte sa aming mga asawa, anak, kapatid at kaanak na hanggang ngayo’y nagdadalamhati halos siyam na taon na matapos ang pinakabrutal na insidente ng pamamaslang ng mga mamamahayag sa kasaysayan.

Isang insultong hindi katanggap-tanggap para sa amin na malaman na ang isa sa mga nagplano ng karumal-dumal na krimen ay makalalanghap ng hangin ng kalayaan kahit sa maikling panahon para makasama ang kanyang pamilya, isang bagay na habambuhay na ipinagkait sa amin.

Ang mas nakalulungkot dito ay hindi namin ito inasahan at walang nagpaabot sa amin ng impormasyon na dumulog sa korte si Zaldy Ampatuan para umapela na bigyan siya ng permisong dumalo sa isang kasalan. Kung nalaman agad namin ito, hinding-hindi namin ito palalampasin at mahigpit itong tututulan.

Kaya ang tanong namin sa aming tagapagtanggol: Sino ba ang inyong kinakatawan sa kasong ito?

Tanong din namin sa korte: Patas at makatarungan ba na bigyan si Zaldy Ampatuan ng pribilehiyong hindi makamit ng ibang presong may mas magagaang na kaso? Makaaasa pa ba kami ng katarungan para sa aming mga mahal sa buhay?

Sana ay maunawaan kami sakaling may nasaling sa paglabas ng aming nga hinanaing tungkol sa tinatakbo ng kaso. Pero matapos ang siyam na taon at wala pang naparurusahan isa man sa mga maysala, aaminin namin na ang aming tiwala sa sistema ng hustisya ay lubos na nasusubok.

Pagkatapos ng masaker, tinaya ng mga eksperto na aabutin ng sampung taon o isang dekada bago may maparusahan sa krimen na ito. Nalalapit na ang panahon na iyon pero ang pagkamit ng hustisya ay nananatiling mailap.

Sa halos isang dekadang inaasam-asam namin ang katarungan ang bubungad sa amin ay ang pribilehiyong tinamasa niya. Ano ang dapat naming maramdaman?

Sa mga humahawak ng kaso, huwag naman po ninyo paglaruan ang kaso dahil hindi po nakakatuwa.

Reference:

Grace Morales
Asawa ni Rosell Morales ng News Focus 6
Tagapagsalita, Justice Now!

 

Ampatuan furlough alarms journos, rights groups

Journalists and human rights advocates expressed alarm over a four-hour furlough given by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (QC-RTC) to a primary suspect in the November 24, 2009 Ampatuan Massacre that killed 58 victims, including 32 reporters.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said in a statement it is concerned to learn that QC-RTC Judge Jocelyn Solis – Reyes allowed former Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) governor Zaldy Ampatuan to leave detention to attend his daughter’s wedding Tuesday, August 21.

“While we may understand a parent’s desire to be present at such an important milestone in the life of a child, we stress that the crime of which Mr. Ampatuan is accused of is of such a heinous nature that the shock and outrage it stirred around the world forced then President Gloria Arroyo to move against the powerful clan that was among her staunchest allies,” NUJP said.

The NUJP said it learned of Ampatuan’s furlough only through Tawi-Tawi Rep. Ruby Sahali who posted on social media a picture of herself with former ARMM governor Zaldy Ampatuan.

The caption read: “Alhamdulilla with my former Boss Former RG Datu Zaldy Uy Ampatuan during the wedding ceremony of his eldest daugher Bai Nur Aila.”

Rep. Sahali also posted video from the wedding, which she indicated was held at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel.

“Almost nine years after the rampage that claimed the lives of 58 persons, 32 of them media workers, no one has yet been convicted. Yet a principal accused, Sajid Ampatuan, was granted bail. That and now this, we feel, gives us and the victims’ families more than enougy cause to worry about whether we can truly expect justice for this most grievous of crimes,” NUJP said.

Suara Bangsamoro and the Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights also condemned what they call double standards in granting petitions for temporary releases from detention.

“Granting Zaldy Ampatuan a furlough, instead of conviction, is an insult to the victims of the Maguindanao Massacre. It also proves that under the Duterte administration impunity reigns as criminals and human rights violators such as Ampatuan’s boss, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, are allowed to regain and continue to consolidate their political power,” Suara Bangsamoro chairperson Jerome Succor Aba said.

Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay for her part said that while Ampatuan was readily given such privilege, “political prisoners were heartlessly denied of their appeals to properly grieve and pay their respects to their loved ones.”

“Andrea Rosal was disallowed to go to the cemetery where her child was interred. Joseph Cuevas and Eddie Cruz were not allowed to even go to the wake of their fathers. Of course, they were not in government and they are poor, so they don’t have the perks of hoodlums and killers such as the Ampatuans, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Juan Ponce Enrile, and Jinggoy Estrada,” Palabay said.

 

The Philippine Star also said Judge Reyes also earlier allowed Ampatuan to attend his daughter’s college graduation from the Ateneo de Manila University.

“We all know that most people accused of lesser offenses almost never get to enjoy a privilege as that granted Zaldy Ampatuan. What made him an exception to the rule?” the NUJP asked.

Sources said Department of Justice prosecutors objected to the petition for furlough by Ampatuan’s defense lawyers, to no avail.

Other sources said that both the prosecution and defense have submitted their memoranda on the case to the court, signalling that the resolution of the long-drawn case would follow shortly.

Judge Reyes reportedly has to rule on the memoranda first before announcing a promulgation schedule.

Reyes holds the Ampatuan Massacre trial in a special court inside Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

On its 32nd anniversary: NUJP members attacked by Nutriasia guards July 30, 2018

(UPDATED) On its 32nd anniversary: NUJP members attacked by Nutriasia guards, arrested
July 30, 2018

As the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines marked the 32nd anniversary of our founding, a number of our members, including the deputy secretary general of our Nueva Ecija chapter, were attacked, threatened and arrested as they covered the violent dispersal of striking workers at the NutriAsia factory in Marilao, Bulacan Monday afternoon.

We denounce the security personnel of NutriAsia for deliberately targeting journalists and the Bulacan police not only for failing to prevent or stop this outrage from happening but, even worse, arresting five colleagues, making false claims about them, and then preventing other journalists from inquiring after them and covering their detention.

Nueva Ecija chapter deputy secretary general Rosemarie Alcaraz was covering the ecumenical service and the violence that followed it for Radyo Natin-Guimba. As she took video of the dispersal, a guard advised her to go behind them. However, when she complied, she was struck on her right thigh with a truncheon, driving her to seek shelter in a makeshift hut erected by the striking workers.

Joseph Cuevas, reporter of Kodao Productions, on the other hand, was confronted by guards who threatened to destroy his camera unless he stopped filming.

Both reporters were wearing identification cards that clearly marked them as journalists.

Meanwhile, colleagues on the ground have confirmed that among the 19 persons arrested during the dispersal and its aftermath were Hiyas Saturay, Eric Tandoc, Avon Ang and Psalty Caluza, who were on coverage for AlterMidya, and Jon Angelo Bonifacio of the UP Diliman publication Scientia.

Kodao and AlterMiday are NUJP affiliates.

When Jola Diones-Mamangun of Kodao Productions went to the Meycauayan police station, she was denied access to documents. And when she asked about her arrested AlterMidya colleagues, was told that drugs and guns had been recovered from them, an obviously false and ridiculous claim.

Other colleagues also quoted Meycauyan chief of police Superintendent Santos Mera of claiming they needed permits before they could cover events at the police station.

The assault, threats and arrests of our colleagues is a clear attack on press freedom and highlights the increasing dangers journalists face in these increasingly troubled times.

We demand that the Meycauayan police immediately release Saturay, Tandoc, Ang, Caluza and Bonifacio. We demand just as strongly that they forget the ludicrous notion of filing trumped up criminal charges against our colleagues. It will surely backfire – and very badly – on you.

We likewise call on Philippine National Police Director General Oscar Albayalde to initiate an immediate investigation into this clear abuse of authority by his subordinates, particularly Mera, and impose the necessary sanctions.

It would bode ill for our already imperiled democracy if the very people sworn to serve and protect the citizenry are themselves responsible for violating our basic rights and liberties and flouting the law.

We will extend all possible assistance to our beleaguered colleagues in making sure those responsible for this assault are held accountable.

Victims decry Arroyo’s ‘resurrection’ as House speaker

A day after former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo wrested the House of Representatives speakership in a controversial manner Monday, families of victims of human rights violations held a press conference and vowed to bring her to justice.

Under Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya counter-insurgency program, more than 1,600 were killed extrajudicially while 200 remain missing to this day.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said it was under Arroyo’s nine-year regime when the Philippines became the most dangerous country for journalists with more than 120 killed.

NUJP condemns media threats and killings at United People’s SONA 2018

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines condemns the continuing threats against journalists and the media killings two years into the Rodrigo Duterte presidency.

Speaking before the massive United People’s SONA protests, NUJP chairperson Nonoy Espina said that with the help of the Filipino people, they will defeat threats against press freedom.