The International Federation
of Journalists (IFJ) is dismayed by reports of continuing intimidation of the Philippines
media by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) under the newly installed
Manila Standard Today reporter Florante “Bong” Solmerin was reportedly manhandled by officials at the
country’s main military installation, Camp
Aguinaldo, in Quezon City on July 30, according to the National Union of
Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP),
an IFJ affiliate.
who is also president of the Philippines Defence Press Corps (DPC), acknowledges
he had forgotten to display his official identification when entering the facility,
and that he exchanged “heated words” with officers.
they continued to intimidate and question him despite his attempts to explain
his presence and show his credentials when questioned. He sought to leave to
avoid further confrontation, but two officers continued to yell at him and refused
to return his identification, .
then pursued by the officers, who tried to punch him, before taking him to the office
of deputy camp commander Navy Captain Miguel Fio Sequisame.
threatened to ban Solmerin from Camp Aguinaldo and referred to the media killings that
plague the Philippines.
He was reported to have said, “You know sometimes we soldiers no longer wonder
why these things happen to you in the media.”
also questioned about who had authored a report in the press which detailed an alleged
illegal “beer joint” operating within the military complex.
held optimism that a new political administration in the Philippines would bring an end to
the mistreatment of journalists at the hands of the military,” IFJ
Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.
“It is the responsibility of
President Benigno Aquino to do everything within his power to end the
disgraceful press freedom record of his country, which includes how military
personnel interact with the media.”
The IFJ also reminds President Aquino of the recommendation in its Action
Plan for the Philippines for a training program to address the way
military, police, elected officials and government employees interact with the
Solmerin’s case is the first major reported incident of intimidation of
a journalist by the military since Aquino took office on June 30. However, defence
reporters Eden Magcarlas, from Net 25, GMA 7 cameraman Jun Fronda and Hataw columnist Joel Egco said they experienced
similar behaviour on August 3, despite displaying their official press cards.
Solmerin has lodged a complaint with AFP Chief of
Staff General Ricardo David, who recently announced plans to strengthen the
armed forces’ Human Rights Offices, and is reported to be working with human
rights groups to improve the AFP’s human rights record.
reports that DPC officials will meet military representatives today to open
dialogue over the series of incidents.
The IFJ reiterates the demands of the NUJP
calling for a full investigation and appropriate sanctions against the officers
involved in the most recent incidents.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
represents more than 600,000 journalists in 125 countries
IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific