Media groups denounce press 'crackdown'
First posted 01:35pm (Mla time) Feb 26, 2006
By Tetch Torres
LOCAL and international press organizations have denounced President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for trampling on democracy after the police raided an opposition newspaper and placed troops outside broadcast stations GMA Network and ABS-CBN.
"We condemn in the strongest words possible the Friday night raid by government troops of the office of the Daily Tribune newspaper, and the sending of troops to 'watch' over broadcast stations, ABS-CBN and GMA7," the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said in a statement.
The military has said that the troops placed outside the broadcast stations were intended to protect them from being taken over by rebels.
Also, both the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) and the Reporters without Borders (RSF) said that the state of emergency declared by Arroyo last Friday was only an excuse to crack down on members of the opposition.
"We deplore the state of emergency imposed yesterday by President Arroyo, who is using it as an excuse to crack down on the opposition. We fear a wave of arrests and more closures of newspapers critical of the government," RSF said.
After the forum of various media organizations led by NUJP, a resolution will be issued detailing assistance to be given to mediamen who may run afoul of Proclamation 1017.
The NUJP said members of the press who have been harassed can call them at +63 2 4117768.
Leah Navarro of the Black and White Movement said lawyers from the Counsel of Defense for Liberties (CODAL) have also offered their legal services to the press.
Meanwhile, Philippine Daily Inquirer publisher Isagani Yambot questioned the Philippine National Police's (PNP) pronouncement that reporting guidelines will be issued.
"What right have they [PNP] to set such standards. We demand that we should set standards for ourselves," Yambot said.
The NUJP said there will be more activities to compel the President to withdraw her crackdown on the media.
"Let us collectively condemn the crackdown on Philippine media and remind Mrs. Arroyo that no country can be free to prosper if its media is silenced and cowed," Carlos Conde, NUJP spokesman said.
(Editor's Note: The Philippine Daily Inquirer and GMA Network are the parent companies of INQ7.net.)