Military’s biodata requirement an intrusion on privacy and press freedom

Nov. 19, 2008

The National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP) is incensed at the sudden requirement imposed by major Eugene Batara, spokesman of the Western Mindanao command, for journalists to

fill up a biodata form before they can be accredited for coverage.

The biodata is not only an invasion of privacy, it is a subtle repression of press freedom as it would give the Westmincom information office blanket authority to decide who it will or will not consider a journalist, an authority it does not have the competence or legal right to possess.

The information journalists are supposed to write down in the form includes facts that have absolutely nothing to do with their profession. This alone gives rise to suspicions of more sinister motives.

Whether working for a news outfit or freelance, a journalist’s identity is public knowledge. There is, thus, no reason for Batara or any other military spokesman or officer to keep a dossier of who the reporters are in the areas where they are assigned. Unless Batara and his ilk doubt their own competence to perform their tasks or, again, the imposition is for more sinister motives.

We demand that Batara withdraw this requirement and for any other military spokesman or command thinking of a similar imposition to do likewise.

We likewise urge our colleagues in the Westmincom area and anywhere else similar attempts to impose the biodata requirement to reject it outright and assert our right to the free practice of our profession.


Sonny Fernandez, Secretary-General

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