Sunday, February 26, 2006

Uphold And Protect Media Freedom

We the officers, members and network partners of LIGA JOURNALISTA and the PEACE & CONFLICT JOURNALISM NETWORK (PECOJON), jointly express our grave concern over the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s Proclamation 1017 enforcing a state of national emergency.

We are particularly alarmed by the proclamation’s enforcement of the ban on people’s right to peaceful assembly, free speech, and redress of their grievances, “limiting” of press freedom, warrant-less arrests, among others.

In our assessment, there are no serious conditions that warrant the declaration of state of national emergency, nor of martial law. The overall economic and political country situation is indeed bad but they should not be used as justification for the use of any form of open state repression.

The government should instead stop closing its eyes, and seek together with the people, especially the aggrieved and marginalized sectors the path to moral recovery, unity, order and progress.

As of press time, the Macapagal-Arroyo government is reported to have raided and closed down the office of known opposition national news daily, the Daily Tribune, and arrested some known opposition political figures, AFP and PNP dissenters, including the reported arrest of some partylist congressmen.
We received reports that the government security forces are on the trail of countless other critics of the GMA government.

We join our colleagues in the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines in demanding the Arroyo government to let journalists and media organizations exercise their fullest freedom to air and print news and information about the current political crisis, and that it desist from undertaking repressive action against journalists and media organizations covering the crisis.

We also urge our media colleagues all over the country not to be cowed by threats, open or veiled, seeking to scare us from boldly performing our jobs as we must.

When unrest and confusion reigns, as is happening at the moment, it becomes ever more vital for the people and members of the media to jealously protect the freedom of the press and expression.

Such is a lesson learned bitterly under the past brutal dictatorship, whose downfall, ironically, Filipinos commemorated on Saturday.

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