Philippines: Police obstruct and intimidate journalists

In separate incidents on June 25 and June 26, police deliberately obstructed two journalists in Manila as the anti-terror bill enters its final stages of review. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) urges the Philippine National Police to act without prejudice and allow journalists to report uninterrupted.

Police arrest protesters at Manila pride on June 26, 2020. Credit: AFP

On June 26 police attempted to arrest Habagat Ferrales, an intern for Manila Today, an independent online news outlet, who was covering the Pride March in Mendiola, Manila. Police continued attempting to arrest Habagat Ferrales despite his colleagues vouching for him as a journalist. Police arrested more than 20 activists at the march who were protesting the anti-terror bill that will allow police to label members of the public, including journalists, “terrorists” and detain them for up to 24 days without a warrant before they have to face a court. A report from ABS-CBN on July 2 states the anti-terror bill is in the final stages of review before it will become law.

The day before on June 25, four policemen stopped and intimidated Mark Makalalad, a reporter for GMA’s radio station dzBB after reporting live on Markos Highway in Marikina City, Metro Manila. In a Facebook post, Makalalad recounts the police approaching him and requesting his journalist identification which he did not have with him at the time. In response, police claimed he was required to ask permission to film before going live in case he was an “enemy”. According to the online news website, Rappler, there is no requirement for reporters to ask permission from the Philippine National Police before going live.

NUJP said: “We urge the PNP leadership to investigate these incidents and caution all their officers to exercise prudence in the performance of their duties to ensure they do not violate the civil rights of citizens.”

The IFJ said: “The IFJ demands police conduct an investigation and immediately review their existing procedures in light of the recent obstruction of media workers.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

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

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