Philippines: Local reporter asked to leave Covid-19 press conference

Jonathan Jalon, a reporter of eMedia Production Network Inc., was asked by security personnel in the Zamboanga City Hall when he was about to cover a press briefing on March 30 since he did not have the identification card. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) to condemn the eviction and call the authorities to withdraw their accreditation for the press.

A volunteer arranges lit candles in a formation to read "Fight Covid-19" during the Earth Hour environmental campaign near a catholic church in Borongan City, Eastern Samar province, on March 28, 2020. Credit: Alren Beronia/AFP

Local government of Zamboanga City, southern part of the Philippines in Mindanao island, have implemented the accreditation for the press and required journalists to wear the identification card when they cover press briefings.

eMedia did apply for accreditation for journalists who wants to cover the government updates on Covid-19 but this had not been acted on at the time Jalon, who was supposed to cover a press briefing, was asked by security personnel to leave City Hall.

NUJP in its statement said that the eviction of Jalon and the inaction on the application submitted by eMedia are a gross violation of press freedom and the accreditation process to get press credentials is an unnecessary, unreasonable, and unconstitutional imposition.

“In times of crisis, the least government should do is hamper or prevent the media from delivering the timely and accurate information our people need to be updated about the situation as well as to cope and survive,” NUJP added.

Authorities were criticized when they announced the media accreditation scheme and prioritized the mainstream media.

Philippines had 3,660 cases of the positive Covid-19 and the death toll was 163 as of Monday, April 6.

The IFJ said: “IFJ calls the authorities to drop the accreditation process and to provide open the access for journalists to report on the latest updates of the outbreak of Covid-19 in the country. Journalists play an essential role amid the health crisis to inform the public.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on [email protected]

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

Twitter: @ifjasiapacific, on Facebook: IFJAsiaPacific and Instagram