Stop bullying media

16 June 2015

The threat by the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability to cite The Standard reporter Christine Herrera in contempt unless she names members of the House of Representatives who allegedly received bribes to approve the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law is a brazen act of bullying.

Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga’s move to cite Ms. Herrera in contempt reveals not only his ignorance or but also his propensity to violate the law that legislators like him created.

The law was precisely enacted to protect sources of reporters and the journalists themselves against any attempt to force them to identify sources who have offered information on the condition of anonymity.

We are certain our lawmakers are fully aware of Republic Act 53, or the Sotto Law, Section 1 of which clearly says:
The publisher, editor or duly accredited reporter of any newspaper, magazine or periodical of general circulation cannot be compelled to reveal the source of any news-report or information appearing in said publication which was related in confidence to such publisher, editor or reporter, unless the court or a House or committee of Congress finds that such revelation is demanded by the interest of the State.

Clearly, Ms. Herrera was in the right to invoke the Sotto Law and refuse to name her confidential sources.

We do not see how anyone in the supposedly august chamber can invoke national security in trying to force Ms. Herrera to divulge any confidential information. House members would do better to undertake their own housecleaning instead of breaking the law to soothe their bruised egos.

Bullying and intimidating Herrera is forcing her to violate one of the basic tenets of journalism on the protection of confidentiality of sources.

This could set a precedent on House investigations involving journalists and poses a threat to the integrity of the media and journalists.

Rupert Francis Mangilit
Secretary General

Statement on the Murder of Tagbilaran Broadcaster Maurito Lim

We have run out of words of condemnation in the face of the murder of yet another colleague.

Maurito Lim was about to alight from his car in front of radio station dyRD in Tagbilaran City, Bohol where he hosted the daily program “Chairman Mao On Board” when a lone gunman onboard the now all too familiar motorcycle shot him around 10:35 a.m., Saturday, February 14, 2015, with reports saying the bullet hit him in the left jaw and exited on the other side of his face.

He was rushed to the Governor Celestino Gallares Memorial Hos pital, just across the street from the radio station where doctors tried, in vain, to save him. Lim was declared dead around 1:15 p.m.

Maurito Lim is the second journalist murdered in Bohol, the 172nd since 1986, and the 31st under the administration of Benigno Aquino III.

We beg the indulgence of our hardworking government officials if we preempt them, lest in their concern for the impunity with which journalists have continued to be murdered under their watch, they chalk this one up to another “non-work related” death, by pointing out that colleagues in Bohol have confirmed that, before his death, Lim had been hitting hard at local officials linked to the illegal drug trade.

While we seriously doubt demanding justice will get us, or Maurito Lim’s family and colleagues, anywhere, we challenge the government to prove us wrong by acting swiftly to solve the case, arrest the killers and, most important, the mastermind who ordered his death.

To the family of Maurito Lim and to the Bohol media community, we extend our sympathies and our solidarity. Rest assured that we will be with you all the way in the search for justice.

To our colleagues in Bohol, we urge you to unite and remain resolute in serving our people in the face of continued threats to press freedom.

Rowena C. Paraan

PNP miserably fails to present any proof on significant headway in the investigation of media killings – NUJP

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines welcomes the Philippine National Police’s statement that it is “implementing more tangible actions to fulfill its crucial role in complementing national government efforts to resolve media killings and other threats to press freedom,” except for one very, very crucial item — the statement miserably fails to present any proof towards achieving this goal, much more what PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac calls “significant headway in the investigation of cases.”
Sindac claims Task Force USIG of the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management has investigated 42 cases resulting in “the successful prosecution of eight (8) accused responsible in separate cases of media slay(sic).”
He cites the murders of Marlene Garcia-Esperat (3 convicted), Edgar Damalerio (1 convicted), Klein Cantoneros (1 convicted), Armando Pace (1 convicted), Rowel Endrinal (1 convicted), Gerardo “Doc Gerry” Ortega (1 convicted) and Arecio Padrigao Sr. (1 convicted).
But not only are the figures wrong to begin with, these convictions pale if seen against the 171 media murders in the country since 1986.
And, may we point out, all these convictions are of those who pulled the triggers or served as lookouts. None of these are of masterminds.
In fact, in the case of Esperat, the accused brains continue to report for work at the Department of Agriculture while, in the case of Ortega, they remain at large, allowed to slip out of the country by hirelings in government.
If this is all the PNP has to report, it is really all but admitting failure. And may we also point out that the reason most of these cases even reached conviction is because of the relentless efforts of media organizations and the victims’ families.
The PNP also says it has “intensified the campaign against Wanted Persons and Organized Crime Groups, particularly gun-for-hire syndicates who may also be involved in media killing.”
This should, of course, be welcome news not only for media but for all citizens of this republic. However, news report after news report will bear out the fact that syndicates that hire out their expertise in assassinations continue to thrive.
The Human Rights Watch report on the “Digos death squad” and its hand in the murder of broadcaster Rogelio Butalid last year remains fresh. And lest we forget, close to a hundred suspects in the Ampatuan massacre remain at large, most of them members of a private army that, at its height, boasted more firepower than the government’s security forces in Maguindanao.
Sindac says there is “no pattern” to the killings and he is right, but only insofar as there is no official program to murder journalists unlike the targeted killings of activists and other dissenters.
However, as we have pointed out again and again, there IS one pattern, not only behind media murders but, come to think of it, of the myriad of other social problems plaguing our country. And that pattern is the continued system of governance that not only tolerates but actually nurtures corrupt warlord politicians, who are the primary suspects in ordering the deaths of so many of our colleagues, but whose loyalty is indispensable to the national government.
It is likewise infuriating that Sindac, like President Benigno Aquino III, engages in the sickening charade of blaming the victims for their fates, by citing motives such as “personal grudge, double-cross, land dispute, and business rivalry” for the killings.
These are clear attempts to downplay the continued assaults on journalists and freedom of the press in the country.
And, as we have said before, questions of ethics may have played a role in a number of cases but this is still no justification for murder. For if, as Sindac and Aquino seem to imply, corruption justifies murder, it should be food for thought why those most guilty of it continue to thrive in the corridors of power.
Rowena Paraan
NUJP Chairperson

On the Murder of Mindoro’s Nilo Baculo Sr.

9 June 2014
In 2008, Mindoro journalist Nilo Baculo Sr. petitioned the courts for protection after learning of a plot to kill him from the hired gun contracted to carry out the hit.
On June 27 of that year, the Court of Appeals denied his petition for a writ of amparo, calling the reported threat “unsubstantiated.”
Reacting to the ruling, Baculo said: “Our justice system is rotten. You have to die first before you can prove” that a threat does exist.
Alas, six years later, Baculo’s words have proven sadly prophetic.
At noon of Monday, June 9, 2014, the 67-year old Baculo, who hosted the program “Isumbong Mo kay Ka Nilo” over radio station dwIM in Calapan City, was gunned down.
He was the 165th journalist murdered in the country, the 33rd under the watch of President Benigno Aquino III and the fourth this year.
Between a president who dismisses media killings because, to him, most victims are targeted “not because of professional activities, but, shall we say, other issues,” courts that, as Baculod sadly foretold, will believe lives are in danger only when those lives are actually lost, and security forces that, as a recent Human Rights Watch report and a number of other investigations into journalists’ murders have noted, are most likely involved, demanding, even hoping for, justice may seem to be an exercise in futility.
But we cannot give in to despair and cynicism.
We will continue to cry out for justice.
We will continue to call out Mr. Aquino, as we have called out the presidents before him, for their accountability in our colleagues’ deaths, not least of all because of their apathy.
We will never tire of pointing out that the State’s failure to protect its own citizens makes it accountable for each and every extrajudicial murder that makes a mockery of all claims to our being a democracy.
We will never tire of urging our colleagues and our people to join us in demanding accountability and justice.
For, more than apathetic or even complicit government, the other sure way to ensure that the impunity with which extrajudicial killings are committed will continue to thrive is indifference.
Rowena C. Paraan
NUJP Chairperson

Freedom of expression cannot be negotiated

29 May 2014
It was, perhaps, to be expected of our “honorable” politicians, that they again use media as their whipping boy when scandal blows up in their faces.
And so we once again have lawmakers angered by the allegations raised by ONE newspaper slavering to sic the right of reply bill wholesale on media.
Worse, we have the chair of the Senate committee on justice and human rights making like a drama queen withdrawing support for the decriminalization of libel.
But it was obvious he never intended to back libel decriminalization in the first place.
One only has to recall his statement after the hearing on the proposal when he blurted out the classic cop-out that there were bound to be even more media killings if libel were decriminalized.
And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, Pimentel has bared himself as a stereotypical abuser of the criminal libel law, with his desire to “take advantage” of the statute while it remains in the Revised Penal Code to exact revenge on Janet Lim Napoles and “some media outfits” for deigning to drag him into the mud and filth of the pork barrel scam.
Yes, we have admitted and will admit it again that ethics, or the lack thereof, are a serious concern for the Philippine media and, to some extent, is among the reasons – NOT justification – for the continued assaults on and vilification of journalists, as well as, sadly, the erosion of public sympathy and trust.
But, NO, we will not allow the profession to be butchered and mangled into a servile mouthpiece for the very people responsible for the massive thievery that constitutes governance in this benighted land.
We will not, as those who wish to force the right of reply bill on us, allow them to take over newspaper, air and online space to freely spout their lies and inanities without challenge.
While we will never condone irresponsible journalism, neither can they use it as an excuse to expropriate what is not theirs.
Besides, being abused by a single entity does not deprive them of their right to reply to the charges in other media or, as so many of these suddenly sensitive creatures are known to do, set up their own “outlets” or purchase their own airtime to freely inflict on those who would read or listen to them their own brand of “public information and opinion.”
As for the senator’s theory that decriminalizing libel will lead to more media killings, why then, if indeed corruption were a valid justification for murder, do the corrupt continue to thrive in the halls of Congress and the corridors of power?

Tawi-Tawi journo 27th killed under Aquino

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) Zamboanga-Sulu-Tawi-Tawi condemns the latest killing of a community-based journalist in Bongao, Tawi-tawi just a day after the observance of World Press Freedom.


Richard Nadjid, 35, married and a father of five, was gunned down the night of May 4, 2014 near his home in Bongao.


While investigators say they have yet to establish the motive for the killing, it is disturbing that Tawi-Tawi provincial police director Senior Supt. Joselito Salido has immediately and baselessly dismissed the possibility of Nadjid’s murder being work-related, calling the victim “just one disc jockey, a person that plays popular music on FM radio station. He is not a journalist.”


That the chief of a province’s police force can display not only insensitivity but, more alarming, ignorance reflects on the quality of what is supposed to be the country’s main law enforcement agency and explains why media murders and human rights violations in general continue to be committed with impunity.


For Salido’s enlightenment, Nadjid was not only the station manager of DxNN Power Myx FM station in Bongao, he also handled the station’s regular morning news and public affairs program.


But Salido’s cop-out on Nadjid’s murder is not surprising given how his commander-in-chief, President Benigno Aquino III, himself set the tone by dismissing media killings with the blanket insinuation that these murders were prodded by motives other than the victims’ work.


Nadjid is the second member of Tawi-Tawi’s fourth estate killed and the 27th under Aquino, the worst year-on-year record under any administration.


On June 25, 2007, radio broadcaster Vicente Sumalpong, production supervisor of Radyo ng Bayan, was gunned down. As with ALL media killings in this country, the mastermind remains at large.



Rowena C. Paraan

Chairperson, NUJP

Media Advisory: Media groups file motion seeking cyber libel unconstitutional

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, together with the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, Philippine Press Institute and other journalist groups have filed today (Mar. 12) a motion asking the Supreme Court (SC) to nullify questionable provisions in the Cybercrime Prevention Act, including the one on online libel.
The petition seeks to declare online libel in Sec. 4(C)4 of the said act unconstitutional because it constitutes prior restraint and curtails our basic rights to free speech and expression, an anachronism in an age when, around the world, libel has been decriminalized.

The petition cited the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the Philippines is a party. The said covenant upholds the right to free speech and expression, and maintains no defamation law shall be passed stifling these freedoms.

Petitioners likewise sought to invalidate sections which unduly delegated judicial and legislative powers to law enforcement agencies such as the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice.

Attached to this advisory is a .doc copy of the petition, filed at 3:00 pm today before the SC.
For reference

Rowena Paraan


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