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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

Para kay Kian Loyd “Pulong” Delos Santos, 17 taong gulang

Paano ba pinapalaki ang isang anak?

Pinapakain, binibihisan, pinag-aaral, pinapangaralan.

“Anak, maging mabait palagi.

Huwag sayangin ang sakripisyo ng iyong ina,

Nagpapakaalipin sa ibang bayan.”

 

Itatakbo sa doktor kapag nagkasakit,

Ipinaghihimay ng ulam sa hapag.

“Anak, kumain kang mabuti para laging malusog.

Mamaya, huwag kang hahara-hara sa daan,

Maraming masasamang-loob diyan sa labasan.”

 

Binibihisan ang bunso, sinusuklayan

Sinisigurong pumapasok sa paaralan at binibilinan.

“Anak, mahirap lang tayo, walang kayamanan.

Pag may nangyari sa iyo, Pulong, wala tayong kakayanan,

Delikado lalo ngayon, baka pati ika’y mapagkamalan.”

 

Tinatangisan ang anak kapag napaslang.

Higit lalo ‘pag biktimang walang kalaban-laban.

“Anak, bakit ka nila pinatay?

Paano na ang iyong pangarap,

Maging pulis at maglingkod sa bayan?”

 

At mula sa kabaong ay sumagot ang anak,

Nananaghoy ng katarungan.

“Itay, sinunod ko lahat ng inyong tinuran.

Sadya lamang, hindi lahat ng Pulong ay binibiyayaan

Hindi kasi Digong ang inyong pangalan.”

 

                                                19 Agosto 2017

                                               12:11 n.h.

                                               Lungsod Quezon