Monday, August 11, 2008

Threats to Journalism in the Philippines


MANILA (IFJ/Pacific Media Watch): The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) strongly condemns the decision by the Zamboanga City Council in the Philippines to declare senior veteran journalist Al Jacinto “persona non grata” on August 7 in response to unfavourable news reports.

According to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), an IFJ affiliate, the declaration was connected to articles published by Jacinto on regarding conflict between religious and ethnic groups in relation to the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE), a new geographical territory proposed by the Philippines government.

The BJE agreement is part of ongoing peace negotiations between the government and local separatist groups in Zamboanga, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“Personal condemnation of a journalist as “persona non grata” on the basis of their reporting through a formal council resolution is an act of harassment and an attack on press freedom,” the IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

“All parties involved must understand the important duty of journalists to report fairly on all sides, and intimidation of this kind can not be tolerated.”

The IFJ joins the NUJP in demanding the Zamboanga City Council issue a formal apology to Jacinto for the inflammatory statement and for instigating unnecessary anti-media sentiment.

The statement came after the murders of two journalists in the Philippines last week. Martin Roxas, anchorman for Radio Mindanao Network (RMN) was shot on August 7. Dennis Cuesta, program director for the RMN dxMD program, died in hospital on Saturday August 9 from injuries sustained from a shooting on August 4, the NUJP reports.

“As the Philippines media mourns the murder of two broadcast journalists last week, the IFJ is dismayed at this unwarranted incitement of anti-media sentiment by authority figures not only towards Jacinto but all journalists in the Philippines.”

* For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919. The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 122 countries worldwide.

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