The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is disturbed by the news eight more arrest warrants have been issued for journalists in the Philippines, less than two weeks after 10 were issued for publishers and journalists of three Cavite-based newspapers.
According to IFJ affiliate, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), warrants were issued for Malaya staff, including: publisher Amado Macasaet; executive editor Enrique Romualdez; editor-in-chief Joy de los Reyes; editors Ma. Teresa Molina, Minnie Advincula, and Ellen Tordesillas; and reporters JP Lopez and Regina Bengco.
“It is unbelievable that in a country whose government espouses a commitment to press freedom, 18 arrest warrants relating to defamation charges have been issued for journalists in less than two weeks,” IFJ President Christopher Warren said.
“The government of the Philippines is failing its people by not decriminalising libel once and for all,” Warren said.
This latest attack on freedom of expression comes as more than 600 Filipino journalists, supported by foreign colleagues and media organisations, signed an NUJP petition calling for the decriminalisation of libel.
According to the NUJP the petition is expected to impede Filipino authorities, including President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s husband who is currently suing 43 journalists, from using outdated laws to silence journalists.
“The people of the Philippines have waited far to long for the government to act and put an end to the use of defamation laws to muzzle a critical press,” said the president of the IFJ, the global organisation representing more than 500,000 journalists in over 115 countries.
“It is time now for congress to take action and pass legislation which recognises the paramount importance of freedom of the press by removing defamation from the criminal code,” Warren said.
For more information please contact IFJ Asia Pacific +61 2 9333 0919
The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in over 115 countries