NATIONAL UNION OF JOURNALISTS OF THE PHILIPPINES
Feb. 26, 2006
A call for solidarity
For a few years now, the global media community has acknowledged the
Philippines among the most dangerous places for journalists. In the
past two years, our country has been second only to Iraq in the number
of media killings. Philippine journalists have fought hard to roll
back the tide of violence. Today, however, the Philippine press faces
its strongest challenge.
In declaring a “state of national emergency,” President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo made media among her main targets. She and senior
aides warned of government takeover of media facilities considered
friendly to the political opposition.
Police have already raided the offices of the Daily Tribune, a
national daily. Armed men in civilian clothes have gone around the
offices of Abante, the country’s biggest tabloid. Police had earlier
arrested Randy David, a columnist of the Philippine Daily Inquirer,
holding the award-winning journalist and sociologist for five hours
prosecutors said there was no ground to charge him with any crime.
The government deployed troops to the compounds of ABS-CBN and GMA-7,
the country’s largest television networks. The government’s claim was
that the soldiers were protecting these stations from a potential
takeover by destabilizers.
Police have also declared that they would not hesitate to takeover
media entities found “aiding” the administration’s enemies. The police
also said they would soon release “standards” or guidelines that
journalists must follow and that investigators and prosecutors were
monitoring the news.
By the government’s definition, providing aid to Mrs. Arroyo’s enemies
includes interviewing opposition parties. In simple terms, the
administration wants media to present only the side of the embattled
government, using force and coercion to bend journalists to its
Filipinos, journalists included, fought a long, hard battle to regain
democracy after two decades of tyranny. That Mrs. Arroyo timed this
crackdown on civil liberties with the anniversary of the Marcos
dictatorship’s fall only highlights her break with the democratic
aspirations of Filipinos. Even as she warns enemies of feeling the
full force of the law, Mrs. Arroyo flaunts constitutional guarantees
to free speech and expression and press freedom.
Leaders of Philippine society have spoken out against the government’s
iron-hand tactics. The Philippine journalism community has also moved
fast to unite against this grand assault on press freedom. Today,
(Sunday, Feb. 26), the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines
will lead various organizations and individual journalists in
protesting the crackdown on media. The Philippine media community
intends to send Mrs. Arroyo a strong message: We will not go gently
into the night.
We call on all our colleagues in print, broadcast and digital
journalism worldwide to support Philippine media in this dark hour.
Please add your voice to our protest. Let us collectively condemn the
crackdown on Philippine media and remind Mrs. Arroyo that no country
can be free to prosper if its media is silenced and cowed. You can
send protest letters to the government through the Office of the Press
Secretary at [email protected], with facsimile number (632) 735-6167 or
deliver these to the nearest Philippine embassy and consulate. You can
send solidarity messages to the NUJP through its email address,
[email protected] or post this on our website, www.nujp.org <http://www.nujp.org> .
National Union of Journalists of the Philippines