DOJ restrictions curtail press freedom

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines is intensely disturbed by developments at the Department of Justice, where the two press corps have been asked to move to a different building and where apparent restrictions on how media covers the agency have been set in place.

The Department, and Secretary de Lima, may well have the right to designate where members of media covering the DOJ can hold office. That, after all, is administrative in nature.

But to require media to first seek clearance before they can conduct interviews and perform the other tasks necessary for their work smacks of prior restraint, therefore, a curtailment of press freedom.

That these changes have been made on the recommendation of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency also leaves the impression that the media and the work they do are considered a threat to security.

While this saddens us no end, it also appears to be indicative of how this administration sees us – not as an indispensable cornerstone of democracy but the enemy.

That these developments are happening under Secretary de Lima, who we have known in the past to be a staunch advocate and defender of human and constitutional rights, is very discouraging.

We urge the good Secretary to reconsider the decision and lift all constraints on media coverage of the Department of Justice.

Rowena C. Paraan
NUJP Secretary-General