The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines has expressed outrage at the sudden requirement by Maj. Eugene Batara, spokesman of the military’s Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), for journalists to fill up biodata forms 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 NUJP stated.
“The information journalists are supposed to write down in the form includes facts that have absolutely nothing to do with their profession,” the NUJP further said. “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 then 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.”
The NUJP called on Batara to withdraw the biodata requirement on journalists. It also called on other military commanders in the country to refrain from making similar impositions.
“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,” the NUJP stated. (Bulatlat.com)