Thursday, November 29, 2007

NUJP: Journalists not enemies of the state

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemned the Philippine National Police who treated journalists covering the standoff at the Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati as “enemies of the state”.“We protest in strongest terms the PNP's move to forcibly bring some journalists to the National Capital Region Police Office in Bicutan and condemn the confiscation of video footage of the day-long stand-off at the Manila Peninsula Hotel,” the group said in a statement. The NUJP likewise denounced the “overkill that led to the tying of the hands of members of ABS-CBN's technical team and reporters” in what looked like a virtual arrest. The group does not accept the explanation of Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro and police officials that the action was done to prevent the escape of Magdalo troops.The group said police officials could easily verify the identities of the technical team with their news team superiors. He added that there was no reason why police officials would be ignorant of the identities of ABS-CBN News correspondents Pinky Webb and Ces Drilon and members of the network's technical team. The group urged authorities to follow legal procedures and reminded them that “invitations to questioning should be differentiated from coercion; journalists have the option to accept the invitation and, certainly, should be accorded the basic right to counsel”. "We concede authorities' right to demand a halt to coverage that could jeopardize the lives of state security forces but believe any move for redress should pass through normal channels, involving management of television stations and not lowly ground staff," the group said. “It is regrettable that a day that would have given the government a clear-cut political victory would be marred by knee-jerk reactions of the authorities. This government claims it is protecting democracy. It should realize that media is a prime component of the democracy it purports to serve,” it added.

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