The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) urges
the incoming administration of Benigno Aquino in the Philippines to make a public commitment
to defend journalists’ right to safety and to undertake immediate action to end
the country’s notorious culture of impunity.
and its affiliate, the National Union of Journalists
of the Philippines (NUJP),
also call on the Philippines Congress to ratify the Freedom of Information Bill
which is to be deliberated in the Congress tomorrow. It will be the last opportunity
to pass the Bill before the Congress ends its session. If the Bill is not
ratified tomorrow, it will have to be re-filed before the new Congress.
taken 14 years, or four Congresses, for the Freedom of Information Bill to
reach this far. Failure to ratify tomorrow will set the whole process back yet
again. We urge Congress representatives not to let this happen, and to make the
Bill law,” a visiting IFJ mission team said.
In the Philippines
this week, local journalists advised IFJ representatives that they expected
continuing risks for media personnel despite the conclusion of national
elections in May. Post-election tensions and the failure of the outgoing
administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to prevent and act on long-term violence
against journalists remain key concerns, notably in Mindanao in the southern Philippines.
IFJ’s visit to a new regional safety office established by the NUJP in Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao,
local journalists stressed that provincial and district power holders and clan
leaders continue to apply intimidation and violent tactics against media
personnel, in the absence of appropriate counter-action from central authorities.
month up to the May 10 elections, the office responded to sundry threats and cases
of intimidation as well as several serious incidents,
including the illegal detention of seven journalists on Camiguin Island
from May 9 to 11. The office intervened quickly to gain the release and safe
passage of the journalists from the “custody” of Camiguin Governor Jurdin Jesus
“JJ” Romualdo and his supporters, who had detained the group as they sought to
report on alleged vote buying in the area.
journalists fear similar incidents may continue post-election as provincial
power-holders jostle for control and test the new administration. They note the
slow judicial process to prosecute those who initiated and carried out the massacre of 58 people,
including 32 journalists and media workers, in Maguindanao province, Mindanao,
last November 23.
“In view of anti-media intimidation
and violence throughout the election campaign, and concerns that such incidents
will continue, the Commission on Elections, local governments and the
Commission on Human Rights must conduct a full, impartial and prompt investigation
into all attacks on media personnel during the campaign,” the IFJ mission team
The IFJ and the NUJP regret that Aquino was
unavailable to meet their representatives this week to provide a personal
assurance that he would ensure political, army and police leaders act to end
the culture of impunity for violence against journalists, and to take all
necessary actions to provide justice to the families and colleagues of the Maguindanao victims.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
represents over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries worldwide