Lift media restrictions on public-interest coverage
The second week of November 2015 has been marked by at least two instances of sudden, unexplained restrictions on journalists covering issues of public interest.
The first was on the media coverage of the proceedings on the charges filed against real estate developer Delfin Lee, alleged brains of the P7-billion Globe Asiatique housing scam, at the regional trial court in San Fernando City last Nov. 9; and the restrictions imposed on journalists covering the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, especially those pursuing the continuing “tanim-bala” scandal.
In both instances, no reason or explanation was given to the media.
There may be valid reasons to bar the media from covering an event, but in the two cases cited above, none of these fit: national security, diplomacy, privacy or protecting the identities of children and women.
Keeping a lid on the trial of Lee would deprive the victims of the housing scam of their right to information in a case on which many of them have hinged their lives and future.
The only reason we see why the Manila International Airport Authority imposed sudden restrictions on the media is that it wants to cloak the truth in the alleged extortion racket. Indeed, such a move can only backfire on MIAA and the personnel suspected to be behind the scandal—if it turns out, as they claim, that the “tanim bala” is a fiction “blown out of proportion.”
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines demands the immediate lifting of these sudden and unexplained restrictions on journalists. These restrictions are only perpetuating the culture of impunity that is plaguing the country where wrongdoers go unpunished. Such acts have no place in a democracy already suffering from the distinction of being the fourth most dangerous country for journalists, per the
New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists’ 2015 Global Impunity Index, and even as we are commemorating the International End Impunity Campaign from Nov. 2 to 23.
—JOYCE PANARES, director, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, [email protected]
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