Media practitioners in this summer capital city have signed a petition to intervene in a press freedom case filed by Manila-based media practitioners before the Supreme Court. The original petitioners in the case seek the aid of the Supreme Court in stopping top government agencies from continuously threatening press freedom.
BY ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 4, February 24-March 1, 2008
BAGUIO CITY (246 kms north of Manila) – Media practitioners in this summer capital city have signed a petition to intervene in a press freedom case filed by Manila-based media practitioners before the Supreme Court. The original petitioners in the case seek the aid of the Supreme Court in stopping top government agencies from continuously threatening press freedom.
The 16 journalists alleged in their petition-in-intervention for prohibition and injunction that they feel with equal effects the threats, intimidation, fear and apprehension as a result of government agencies move which they claimed serves as threat to press freedom and on their job to bring information to the public.
The Baguio-based journalists identified the following government agencies as respondents: Office of the Executive Secretary, Department of Justice (DoJ), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of National Defense (DND), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP) including its Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), which continuously issue threats, warnings, advisories that are “couched in a general language that affect journalists and media practitioners – not only in Manila – but in the whole country.”
“The acts, threats, warnings, advisories, intimidation of the respondents produce the same, if not greater fear and chilling effect upon provincial press,” said the intervenors, whose intervention was pursuant to Rule 19, Section 2 of the Rules of Court.
“If the said act of respondents could be committed against major and leading national media outlets and companies and leading journalists based in the Metro Manila area, it would be much easier for respondents and those under their command, to stifle press freedom in the provinces and inculcate fear upon members of the provincial press and small provincial media outfits,” added the intervenors, who are from seven local and national media outfits.
Press freedom fight
The Baguio journalists claimed that their intervention is in-fact a fight against the government’s effort to stifle press freedom.
While hundreds of kilometers away from Manila, the journalists stressed that they feel the threats to media after the Manila Peninsula Hotel incident on Nov. 29, 2007. They defended their media colleagues in Manila, saying the latter had done nothing wrong in covering the incident.
“We would have done the same had we been there, or the same kind of incident happen in Baguio or the Cordilleras, as we feel it would have been part of our duty and function to gather the news and to report the same to the public who has the right to be informed,” the Baguio journalists said.
In supporting the petition, the said journalists claimed that the experiences of journalists in the Manila Peninsula Hotel who were manhandled by the government forces can happen to them hence they decided for the intervention.
“In fact, most of the media killed during the time of GMA were from the provinces,” said Frank Cimatu, one of the intervenors. “The threat and actuations by the respondents have widespread chilling effects on members of the provincial media. We want this threat to stop.”
The intervenors claimed in their petition that they do not aim to unduly delay or prejudice the adjudication of the rights of the original parties, but provide the court a more accurate view of the extent and effect of the acts of the respondents complained of and how it affects Philippine media, including those in the provinces who are more vulnerable on the said effects.