MANILA — Several organizations have called on media outfits not to publish President Rodrigo Duterte’s list of public officials allegedly involved in the illegal-drugs trade.
Duterte and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo have announced plans of releasing the so-called narco-list next week. The list reportedly includes 82 candidates in the May 2019 elections.
In a joint statement, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), Philippine Press Institute (PPI), Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), Mindanews, Center for Community Journalism and Development (CCJD) and Freedom for Media, Freedom for All Network expressed grave concern about the likely breach professional ethics and adverse legal implications of the publication and broadcast of the said list.
“This matter is more than just about a list, and its disclosure, more than just a story that the Duterte Administration seems to want the news media to publish and broadcast with no thought to the journalistic values of fairness, accuracy, and independence,” they said.
The groups urged media outfits to exercise utter prudence and fastidious judgment in evaluating the ‘story.’
They pointed out that the chief of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency himself opposes the release of the list, admitting that his agency has yet to re-validate it.
“Once published or broadcast, the travesty will be magnified as a collective disregard for the rule of law, and a clear breach of the time-honored traditions of fair, accurate, and independent journalism, by the news media,” they said.
The groups added that Duterte’s naming and shaming redounds to mere trial by publicity of political rivals, and a publicity stunt for the public and the news media’s transient amusement.
They also reminded Panelo that there are no exemptions to the principle of presumption of innocence.
“Such naming and shaming calls attention to the possible invasion of privacy, as well as denial of due process and presumption of innocence, for those on the list,” they said.