Journalists fight back against police harassments

Jan. 29, 2008

Members of the Philippine press are gearing up to fight back against unrelenting harassments being conducted by the Philippine National Police (PNP) against their ranks.

In a meeting last Monday organized by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), members of the media resolved to file two cases against the PNP one a class action suit to be led by NUJP and the other a writ of prohibition to be led by ABS-CBN.

NUJP has sent out letters to different media outfits enjoining journalists to join one of the two petitions (joining two will subject a media practitioner to charges of forum shopping).

In its letter, NUJP informed its members that petitions will focus on the arrest of journalists during the Manila Peninsula incident and the subsequent threats issued by PNP officials. The petition would cite previous Supreme Court rulings, such as in the David v. Arroyo case, where the High Court castigated government officials for their “arrogant warnings” against the press.

The media organization revealed that the two cases will be filed on the same day, after which a joint press conference will be held.

The participants noted that everyday since January 11, there was at least one threat against media made by PNP chief __ Razon, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales, and other military and government officials. “A threat a day keeps the press away,” one journalist ironically quipped.

The lawyers present at the meeting noted the wide range of threats that media is getting threats of arrests, criminal prosecution, public denunciation by accusing journalists of coddling military rebels, and, lately, and even rebellion charges.

The cases are part of the Philippine press’s move to assure that there will be no repeat of Martial Law, when the late dictator President Ferdinand Marcos was able to effectively quell the media. “Journalists (then) were in denial until the very last moment. When they finally woke up, it was too late.” Business World’s Vergel Santos said.#

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