Philippines: Local government harasses radio journalists

The local government has repeatedly harassed Radyo Natin Guimba (RNG) radio station reporters in Guimba for covering their response to Covid-19. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the National Union of the Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) urge authorities to allow journalists to report unobstructed.

Guimba town hall, Guimba, Nueva Ecija, Central Luzon, Philippines. Credit: Ramon FVelasquez

On May 11 the municipal council approved a resolution allowing the mayor to file charges against RNG for breaching the Bayanihan Heal as One Act, an act legislated to give the government power to implement reforms to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. At the May 11 meeting, councillor Bonbon Dizon and the son of mayor Jose Dizon stole the press credentials of field reporter, Lina Villafor to take pictures. 

According to NUJP, reports of the local government harassing reporters began in April when police threatened to charge radio staff handing out vitamins and fruit to senior citizens. This week, at an emergency meeting on May 16 at Guimba’s Association of Barangay Captains, lawyer OJ Manuel Cornejo repeated the previous threat to sue RNG. On May 18, councillor Virgilio Fabro made the RNG field reporter leave the session hall, claiming they were discussing a “sensitive topic”. On May 19, police aggressively approached and intimidated an RNG reporter covering the distribution of palay seeds near the agriculture department. 

NUJP said: “All these incidents are brazen violations of the constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of the press and of expression. NUJP stands with RNG Guimba in asserting its right to unhampered coverage of relevant events of public interest in the town.”

The IFJ said: “During the current Covid-19 pandemic, journalists must have a safe environment to report without obstruction or legal challenges. The IFJ calls on the government to respect journalists’ right to report and the public’s right to be informed and hold authorities accountable.”

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

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

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