PNP resorts to rumor-mongering to justify press freedom violations

Jan. 29, 2008

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines is alarmed over statements made by authorities that a journalist supposedly aided fugitive Marine Capt. Nicanor Faeldon escape after the November 29 Makati standoff. Especially worrisome is the way authorities are releasing information tantamount to rumor-mongering and done behind the skirt of anonymous and unofficial sources.

First, it was floated as a rumor. Then the names of journalists Ellen Tordesillas and Ces Drilon were floated while police and government officials announced that a case was being readied against the reporter. Now comes a report quoting anonymous senior police officers pointing to Jiji Press reporter Dana Batnag as the supposed savior of Faeldon.

This show has been going on for several weeks now and has already become quite tiring. To this day, the police and Department of Justice have yet to show concrete evidence and file a formal case against any journalist.

We cannot help but link these insinuations to the arrest of our colleagues during the Makati stand off and the subsequent unabashed threats of similar arrests if journalists do not obey so-called “lawful orders.” We view it as part of an insidious campaign to intimidate media and control the flow of information.

We challenge the police to show the RPN footage that it claims shows Batnag helping Faeldon. We challenge them to file the case if they have a case to file. Otherwise, they should stop the witchhunting and rumor-mongering that it has allowed itself to sink into. We stand by any journalist that the PNP will falsely accuse in its shameful campaign to justify its arrest of journalists last Nov. 29 and the subsequent threats they issued.

We call on our colleagues in media to stand firm against this campaign of intimidation and to remain true to our calling to serve the people’s right to know.

Joe Torres Jr., NUJP chair
Rowena Paraan, NUJP Secretary-General

Tel.: (+632) 4117768

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