“Instead of imposing unnecessary requirements, we expect government to provide an atmosphere conducive to press freedom.”
By ALYSSA MAE CLARIN
MANILA– The academe and various various media organizations added their voices in calling on the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) to rescind its decision to require accreditation of journalists and media workers covering the COVID-19 pandemic.
Concerned faculty members of the University of the Philippines’ (UP) Department of Journalism, along with media groups Philippine Press Institute (PPI), Photojournalists’ Center of the Philippines (PCP), and the Center for Community Journalism and Development (CCDJ) said that requiring a PCOO ID is unnecessary.
The task force mandated to handle the COVID-19 outbreak announced yesterday that as part of the guidelines in the Luzon-wide “enhanced community quarantine,” media people should first acquire within 72 hours special pass from PCOO in order to cover and pass restricted areas.
Today, the academe and various media organizations released a statement recommending for the PCOO to rescind its decision to require the accreditation of journalists and media workers.
University of the Philippines’ (UP) Department of Journalism, along with media groups Philippine Press Institute (PPI), Photojournalists’ Center of the Philippines (PCP), and the Center for Community Journalism and Development (CCDJ), said that requiring a PCOO ID is unnecessary.
“A valid press ID should be enough to establish the identity of a journalist and media worker even during the enhanced community quarantine,” the groups said.
They also warned that the additional ID could be perceived by the public, as a means to control the media and stated that PCOO should not be giving an impression that it wants to compromise the independence of the press.
“In the same way that there are those who claim that laws are being weaponized against the press, a PCOO ID could also be misused and abused to deprive the media of access to information,” they said.
The groups suggested that rather than imposing an additional media ID, the PCOO could help by ensuring that police and military manning the borders should refrain from harassing and intimidating media workers.
They also said that if the government wanted to aid the media, it could be through ensuring that journalists and media workers covering in the frontlines would be given safety equipment and adequate medical care by their employees.
Earlier, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) also urged the task force to reconsider its decision. The group said requiring a PCOO-accredited media IDs would only impede the flow of news media people are gathering for the worried public.