Posts

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)

IAWRT, charging towards the future

Travelling almost 10,000 kilometers to the other side of the globe, four members of the Philippine chapter of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) attended the organization’s Regional Conference in Entebbe, Uganda from October 2-5, 2018

Themed “IAWRT Looking into the Future,” the global event gathered 50 participants from five continents representing 11 of the 14 IAWRT chapters worldwide.

IAWRT International President Violet Gonda in her opening speech underscored the importance of the conference as a milestone in IAWRT’s events calendar.

“It is here that we will share with the members the work done in the last 10 months of the new leadership. More importantly, it is here that members will get involved in mapping out the road ahead for the association,” Gonda said.

IAWRT is moving quickly into the future, its officers said. At the conference, two new chapters were formally acknowledged, Afghanistan and Iraq-Kurdistan, represented by their respective chapter heads, Najiba Ayubi and Awaz Salim Abdulla.

The conference also created a new Committee for Chapter Development with the objective of strengthening chapter capacities and capabilities.

This brings the number of committees created by the current leadership to 12 in the span of just 10 months, which Gonda noted is the biggest in IAWRT history.

Some of the other committees created are the following: 1) Committee in Relation to the UN Commission on the Status of Women; 2) Scholarship Committee; 3) Gender Mainstreaming Committee; 4) Asian Film Festival Committee; 5) Rural Women and Media Committee; 6) Community Radio Committee; and 7) The Gender Based Online Harassments Committee.

Meanwhile, IAWRT’s 2018 full-length video documentary “Displacement and Resilience: Women Live For A New Day” was launched at the conference that features the stories of five women refugees from Syria, Tibet, Myanmar and the Philippines. Segments of the video were directed by five individual members from the said countries.

“Displacement and Resilience” presented the following:

  1. The stories of Mariam and Haifa, two Syrian women who fled Allepo and are now seeking refuge in two different countries, as told by Eva Anandi Brownstein and Khedija Lemkecher, respectively;
  2. The story of Namgyal from the Tibet Movement for Self Determination, as told by Afrah Shafiq of India;
  3. The story of Lumad indigenous peoples leader Bai Bibiaon, as told by Erika Rae Cruz of the Philippines; and
  4. The stories about the Rohingya Refugee Crises of Myanmar, as told by IAWRT Board member Archana Kapoor together with Chandita Mukherjee.

Mukherjee also served as the executive producer of the entire project who was responsible for combining these five stories into one documentary.

The International Board and the Philippine chapter launched Amplifying the People’s Voices: The Philippine Community Radio Experience and Challenges, a handbook on community radio prepared by IAWRT-Philippines recounting three decades of community radio experience in the country at the conference.

A workshop on community radio was conducted during the conference that showed participants how a community radio narrowcast program is organized and held. It was facilitated by IAWRT-USA’s  Sheila Katzman with the Philippine Chapter delegates.

In addition, the conference approved two new organizational documents: the Code of Conduct and Election Guidelines.

Lastly, the membership also affirmed the International Board’s decision to set-up an International Secretariat office in the Philippines.

IAWRT-Philippines head Jola Diones Mangun welcomed the decision, saying “the Philippine chapter is elated and honored with the decision.”

“We will do our best for IAWRT as it charges towards the future,” Mamangun added.

The Conference ended with the members extending the term and mandate of the International Board until 2020.  # (Report by Walkie Miraña / Slideshow by Lady Ann Salem)

 

IAWRT, CHARGING TOWARDS THE FUTURE

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

NUJP condemns jailing of Myanmar journalists

September 4, 2018

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines condemns the sentencing of our Myanmar colleagues Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo of the Reuters news agency to seven years in jail under that country’s Official Secrets Act.

Myanmar has effectively outlawed freedom of the press and belied all its claims of democratization.

The only way for Myanmar to rectify this grievous injustice is to free our colleagues and pledge to respect and uphold freedom of the press.

We extend our sympathy to the families of the two and declare our support for colleagues in Myanmar.

At the same time, we note that the jailing of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo is not an isolated incident but part of the worsening trend of media repression in Southeast Asia as governments seek to control the free flow of information and the public discourse.

We call on journalists throughout the region to close ranks and vigorously oppose all efforts to muzzle us and prevent us from serving our peoples’ sacred right to know.

NUJP Directorate

NutriAsia guards, Meycauayan police deliberately attack journalists

During the violent dispersal of striking NutriAsia workers and their supporters last Monday, July 30, company guards and Meycauayan police under the direct supervision of Superintendent Santos Mera attacked and arrested without provocation members of the media covering the incident.

This video is a collection of actual footage by Kodao and Altermidya reporters who were arrested and hurt, as well as Supt. Mera’s illegal efforts to prevent others to inquire with him if they arrested the five journalists.

Journalism is NOT a crime

July 31, 2018

It is a dark time for democracy and freedom when journalists are treated as criminals – arrested, beaten up, threatened, charged and prevented from doing their work – as happened to our colleagues who covered the violent dispersal of striking workers of NutriAsia and their supporters in Marilao, Bulacan Monday afternoon, July 30.

Footage obtained by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines tends to show that this brazen assault on working journalists – therefore an attack on press freedom itself – was deliberate and not merely triggered by the heat of the moment.

Our colleagues – four from the alternative media (Hiyas Saturay, Eric Tandoc, Avon Ang and Psalty Caluza) and one from UP campus publication Scientia (Jon Angelo Bonifacio)– were harrassed and arrested. Video footage shows a policeman grabbing Saturay, who was on assignment for the AlterMidya Network, and dragging her away even after she had informed him of who she was.

Rosemarie Alcaraz of Radyo Natin-Guimba, who is also the secretary-general of our Nueva Ecija chapter, was hit by truncheon. NutriAsia guards also dragged Bonifacio, causing him to stumble and sustain injuries and threatened to beat up Kodao Productions cameraman Joseph Cuevas with police personnel not even attempting to prevent a clear threat to life and limb.

As if these weren’t bad enough, when Jola Diones-Mamangun of Kodao Productions went to the Meycauayan police station where those arrested, including our colleagues, were detained, she was denied access to them as officers uttered the obviously false and ludicrous claim that drugs and guns had been recovered from the people they had picked up.

Superintendent Santos Mera, the Meycauayan police chief, was also quoted as saying media needed permits to cover events at his station, a requirement we are sure he very well knows is unconstitutional. Even after their identities have been established, our arrested colleagues were among those subjected to inquest proceedings by the Bulacan police today.

We reiterate our demand for the authorities to withdraw the charges and release our colleagues and end this outrageous farce against them. Unless the authorities now consider journalism a crime and its practitioners as dangerous felons.

We urge the community of independent Filipino journalists to rally around our beleaguered colleagues and send a clear signal that we will not allow any assault on freedom of the press and of expression to pass unchallenged and will hold anyone responsible accountable.