The Zamboanga City Council move declaring Al Jacinto persona non grata was uncalled for and constituted a form of harassment. The council, with all its power and resources, could have checked first with the newsman or his news outfit before issuing such arbitrary and unwarranted action.
The move stemmed from Jacinto’s articles posted in GMANews.tv regarding the opposition to the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) by several groups in Zamboanga.
Jacinto is a veteran and was simply performing his duties, as demanded by his profession and news organization. Any statement against the formation of BJE was not Jacinto’s but were quoted from different sources duly identified in the articles. They were uttered by personalities campaigning against the controversial and emotional BJE issue.
Contrary to the council’s belief, Jacinto’s articles did not bring shame to the city. We thus resolutely call on the council to withdraw its resolution which has served as a tool to intimidate not just Jacinto but all journalists in Zamboanga City as well as other journalists covering the peace negotiations between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
The move was an affront to press freedom and violated the right of the people to information on matters of public concern. All developments pertaining to the peace negotiations are definitely matters of grave public concern.
Chairperson, NUJP Zamboanga chapter
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