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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.

 

Espina-Varona wins international award for journalists

A Filipino won one of the most prestigious global awards for journalists for her resistance to “financial, political, economic or religious pressures or because of the values and rules that enable them to resist” in reporting on issues that are sensitive in the Philippines.

Cited for her many reports on child prostitution, violence against women, LGBT (lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgenders) issues and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Mindanao, veteran journalist Inday Espina-Varona was awarded the Prize for Independence by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in London Thursday, November 8.

In her acceptance speech, Espina-Varona shared the honor with her “embattled Philippine colleagues: the 185 killed since the 1986 restoration of a fragile, perpetually threatened democracy, 12 of them in the first two years of President Rodrigo Duterte’s rule.”

“This is also for colleagues who face death threats, vilification campaigns, and revocation of access to coverage, for doing what journalists are supposed to do — questioning official acts and claims, especially on issues of human rights and corruption,” she added.

Varona said other threats are more insidious — like having journalists becoming witnesses to cases filed by cops in the aftermath of raids, practically a quid pro quo for continued access to police operations.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) is launching the “Sign Against The Sign” campaign to repeal the law that fuels the practice today in Quezon City.

“There is another grave problem we face: the proposed draconian changes to the law that would make terrorists of practically all critics of the government and make journalists and media accessories whenever we give voice to persons and groups the government deems ‘terrorist’ — practically all dissenters,” Espina-Varona added.

She said she is proud of Philippine journalism, of colleagues who probe not only the effects of growing autocracy, but also the roots of social woes that allowed a false messiah to bedazzle Filipinos.

“If I am independent, it is because there are colleagues and fellow citizens who fight for rights and freedoms, who refuse to be silent in the face of thousands of murders and other injustices, who fight on despite threats, arrests and torture, whose words and deeds speak from beyond the grave,” Espina-Varona said.

“Filipino journalists are brave because we come after the many who showed courage over hundreds of years. And we are brave because our people are brave,” she added.

Espina-Varona said Filipino journalists cannot let the Filipino people down, nor allow them to forget the country’s dark past as well as their triumph against it.

The NUJP congratulated Espina-Varona for the award in a statement Friday, thanking its former president for recognizing the role independent Filipino journalists played in defending and advancing the Filipino people’s rights and liberties.

The NUJP also thanked the awardee for her recognition of journalists who defend democracy “despite the dangers they face, not least from the very forces supposedly sworn to protect and preserve our freedoms.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

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)

Journalists express outrage at PIA’s promotion of Bong Go

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) expressed outrage over efforts by the Philippine Information Agency’s Negros Occidental (PIA-NO) office to act as public relations arm of senatorial candidate Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.

In a statement, the NUJP accused PIA-NO provincial information center Lorenzo Lambatin Jr. of insulting local journalists by sending them “suggested questions” to Go who was expected in Bacolod on Saturday, October 27, with President Rodrigo duterte for the city’s annual Masskara Festival.

“Since when have the duties of the PIA included being a public relations arm for political candidates and, as the second question clearly acknowledges, a private citizen ‘no longer with the government?’” the NUJP asked.

Lambatin reportedly sent the following “suggested questions” to the journalists Saturday afternoon:

  1. Sir message ninyo sa mga taga-Bacolod and sa Masskara event?”
  2. What makes you busy now that you are no longer with the government?
  3. Sir,baket ka tumakbo bilang senador?
  4. Sir,tell us about Malasakit Centers?
  5. Sir what would be your legislative agenda, sakaling palarin kang manalo bilang senador?

Go filed his certificate of candidacy for next year’s national elections earlier this month and has resigned as “special assistant to the President,” a unique Cabinet position created for the long-time assistant to Duterte.

NUJP reminded Lambatin that PIA’s mandate is “to disseminate information about government programs, projects, and services to the Filipino public, with the final goal of seeing the quality of their lives improved and empowered to participate in the country’s democratic processes.”

For using the PIA to benefit a private citizen, the NUJP called on PIA Director-General Harold Clavite to immediately conduct an investigation into this matter and make the findings public.

The journalists group added Lambatin owes the Negros media an apology for the affront and should explain who ordered the use of his office to promote Go’s candidacy.

Lambatin has yet to respond to NUJP’s statement issued Sunday. # (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!

 

Police denies Kodao’s inquiry on arrested journos

Kodao Productions went to the police station in Meycauayan, Bulacan Monday afternoon to cover and verify the arrest of fellow Altermidya reporters. This is an audio recording of the exchange between Kodao executive director Jola Diones-Mamangun and police officers inside the police station. (Editing by Film Weekly)

Scores hurt, arrested from violent dispersal by police and NutriAsia guards

Nineteen NutriAsia workers and supporters were arrested as 100 elements of the Meycauyan Police and security guards dispersed the picketline just outside the factory in Marilao, Bulacan.

In a phone interview with Bulatlat, NutriAsia worker William Espiritu said the violence started at around 3. pm. today, July 31.

While an ecumenical prayer by some 300 workers and supporters was being held, company security guards started pushing the workers using police’s shields. After a few minutes, the policemen and guards hit the protesters with rattan sticks and threw stones at them.

“They kept on striking us, even as we raised our hands,” Espiritu said. “They did not have any mercy.”

Espiritu said a dialogue between the management and their union was scheduled today. “We were ready to dismantle our picket if need be. Our only demand is to reinstate all the dismissed workers,” he said in Filipino.

One of the supporters of NutriAsia workers hit by the police. (Photo courtesy of Anakbayan)

One of the supporters, identified as Leticia Espino, a member of Kadamay from Pandi, Bulacan was among those hurt. A photograph posted by Anakbayan shows blood all over Espino’s mouth, spilling on her scarf and blouse.

Two others, Espiritu said, were brought to the hospital in critical condition. At least 20 more were wounded and given first aid.

Nineteen were arrested and brought to Meycauayan Police Station, according to Karra Taggaoa, spokesperson of the League of Filipino Students (LFS). Among those arrested were Anakbayan Secretary General Einstein Recedes and LFS Secretary General Mark Quinto.

After the arrests and beatings, Espiritu said the policemen and security guards destroyed the workers’ makeshift tents and confiscated their laptops, cellphones, bags containing cash and personal belongings.

Espiritu said at least 20 motorcycles and some bicycles owned by NutriAsia workers were also taken by policemen and security guards and brought inside the NutriAsia compound.

NutriAsia workers began their strike on June 2 after management dismissed 50 workers. The NurtiAsia workers are also demanding regularization.

Journalists hurt, arrested

Also apprehended were journalists covering the incident.

Rhea Padilla, national coordinator of Altermidya, said one of their volunteers, Hiyas Saturay sent her a message informing her that she and her colleagues Eric Tandoc, Avon Ang, Psalty Caluza were being taken by policemen.

A campus journalist, Jon Angelo Bonifacio of the Scientia publication of the College of Science of UP, was also arrested.

The five were among the 19 arrested and are currently detained at the Meycauayan Police Station.

Another journalist, Rosemarie Alcaraz of Radyo Natin Guimba, was hurt when NutriAsia security guards hit her with rattan sticks and pushed her away. While filming the dispersal, a policeman hit her camera, a Canon 70D.

“They knew that I’m a journalist. I’m wearing my ID,” Alcaraz told Bulatlat.

Kodao reporter Joseph Cuevas was also told by a company guard to stop filming or his camera would be destroyed.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemned the arrest of the five journalists, the attack on Alcaraz and threat against Cuevas.

“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,” the NUJP in a statement said.

The group demanded the release of the five detained journalists by the Meycauayan police and forget plans of filing trumped up criminal charges against the journalists.

The NUJP likewise called on Philippine National Police Director General Oscar Albayalde to initiate an immediate investigation into this clear abuse of authority by his subordinates.

Kodao tried to interview NutriAsia guards after the dispersal and arrests but was refused. At the Meycauayan PNP station, the Kodao team was told to leave the precinct when it inquired about the arrested journalists. # (Len Olea/Bulatlat and Raymund B. Villanueva/Kodao)