MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has lauded the Presidential Task Force on Media Security’s (PTFoMS) efforts in protecting the media workers’ welfare by upholding press freedom in the country. In his message for the 5th founding anniversary of the PTFoMs, Duterte expressed hope… Read More
MANILA – The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) is in high gear as it celebrated Monday its 5th year anniversary as the forefront agency of the government in defending press freedom by protecting the life, liberty and security of media workers in the Philippines.As one of… Read More
SAN JOSE DE BUENAVISTA, Antique – An Antiqueño lawyer aspiring to represent his province’s lone district in Congress will push to decriminalize libel against media practitioners once elected in the May 2022 elections.
Lawyer Abdiel Dan Elijah Fajardo, former national president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) under the Liberal Party (LP) at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) provincial office here on Wednesday.
“My father and I had since been advocating for the decriminalization of libel against media practitioners, so hopefully I would win in the election so I could pursue it,” he said in a press conference that followed.
“Due to fear of libel suits, media practitioners could not freely express their opinions for they might be committing public and malicious imputation of a crime, or a vice or defect or to have caused dishonor on a person,” he added.
A media practitioner found to have committed libel, as provided for under Article 353 of the Revised Penal Code, has to face prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods or a fine ranging from PHP200 to PHP6,000 or both.
The media under Article 353 of the Revised Penal Code may also face civil action, which may be brought by the offended party.
“The media, who are already almost struggling in their economic existence also, would of course be cowered in expressing their opinions so as not to get a libel suit,” Fajardo added.
He said those who are also usually filing libel against media practitioners are only after the civil action because of the damage caused on their reputation and not really imprisonment of the media so there is a need for the decriminalization of libel.
Fajardo is the eldest son of the late Daniel Gumban Fajardo, who published the regional newspaper Panay News and served as president of the Iloilo Press Club (IPC), a media organization.
In a statement dated June 21, 2012, NUJP-Davao chair Jessie Casalda said Karlos Manlupig was singled out because he was an active member of the League of Filipino Students (LFS) when he was a student at the Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU).
Casalda said Manlupig was held outside the ballroom of the hotel where President Aquino was meeting with local officials from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
“He first went through the usual verification process of the PSG during visits of the President. He was frisked before he was cleared by the other PSG members themselves. But at the final verification stage, PSG members, upon seeing his media pass and identification card, told him he could not get inside the ballroom because someone else had already entered using his name and the same media pass,” Casalda said.
He said Philippine Information Agency regional director Efren Elbanbuena was brought to the verification area to verify Manlupig’s press pass.
“Not content, the PSG insinuated that the signatures in the media pass could have been forged, in spite of the fact that Elbanbuena had already validated the ID,” he said.
“Only after this was Manlupig was allowed entry to the ballroom. However, some journalists overheard the members of the PSG singling out Manlupig because ‘he was a member of the LFS,’” he said.
Manlupig was an active member of the LFS during his college days at the AdDU, Casalda said. In its website, the LFS describes itself as “a national democratic mass organization with a socialist perspective.”
Casalda said while the PSG members’ statement was “ridiculous,” it was also “apparently a flimsy excuse to intimidate Manlupig, who also contributes to online news providers Rappler, Vera Files, and GMA online news.”
He said the PSG’s actions in effect “almost prevented Manlupig’s access to an event crucial to public scrutiny, which is tantamount to depriving the people’s right to information.”
“NUJP believes that while it is the business of the PSG to secure the President, what they did to Manlupig confirms the administration’s paranoia, its inability to look at journalism as a profession with respect, and its tendency to lump activists and media together under the cover of being perceived enemies of the state,” Casalda said.
THE NATIONAL Union of Journalists of the Philippines condemns the arrogant and totally illegal manner by which supposedly visiting American soldiers ordered Zamboanga City-based journalists to stop taking footage while the latter were covering a visit by retired general Edilberto Adan, executive director of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) Commission, last Monday.
Adan’s visit, which included the headquarters of the US military’s Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines inside the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), is in line with Sec. 3c of Executive Order No. 199 mandating the VFA Commission to monitor the activities of foreign military and civilian personnel covered by the defense agreement.
NUJP director Julie Alipala, who is based in Zamboanga, quoted a local television reporter as saying that one of the six American soldiers guarding the task force headquarters told the news crew: “I am ordering you not to take footages.” When one of the reporters asked what the basis for the order was, the American replied: “I don’t understand you, but don’t make me take your camera.”
Sought for clarification, Westmincom spokesman Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang clarified the American soldier’s actions, saying that the journalists were in a secure facility “and persons going there need clearance” to shoot video and other images.
But as reported by Alipala, the news crew was taking footage outside the task force headquarters.
Even granting Cabangbang’s explanation, we maintain that foreigners still have absolutely no authority to tell us Filipinos what we can or cannot do in our own country, much less threaten to confiscate our property. If they had any issue, they should have conveyed it to their local counterparts who could then have relayed the matter to the journalists concerned.
As far as we are concerned, the task force headquarters is not sovereign American territory; it is Philippine territory that visiting foreign troops are allowed to use as part of a defense agreement.
We believe that ultimate authority over the facility resides in the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine government, unless they have conceded this authority to what would then essentially be foreign occupiers.
We ask the VFA Commission to conduct an investigation into this matter, for this arrogant behavior of foreign visitors goes beyond mere security concerns; it strikes at the very heart of our sovereignty as a nation and a people. We also demand that the VFA Commission put the Americans in their proper place and warn them against any repetition of this kind of arrogance. To let this incident pass would be tantamount to giving up our rights and liberties to foreigners.
NESTOR P. BURGOS JR.
National Union of Journalists of the Philippines,
We decry the harassment of media workers of Radio Mindanao Network-DXDC Davao station who have taken to constituting themselves into a union to protect their rights due to recent repressive actions of RMN top management officials and one of the Company owners.
That this blow came even if RMN Davao topped the latest AC Nielsen survey makes the termination order highly suspect.
In this latest survey, RMN-DXDC Davao garnered a high .75 rating or number 1 among 40 radio stations in Davao City, the results owing to its “progressive” brand of programming that draws attention to the lives and simple joys of the common folk, their plight and their struggles.
The same brand of programming has gained the station a consistent number 1 popularity in Davao City and the whole of Southern Mindanao for the past several years under Solis’s watch.
The same brand of programming delivered for the RMN Company more than the monthly sales quotas and revenues it required on its provincial stations.
It will be recalled that Solis had been vehement in opposing attempts of a top RMN official’s to tinker with broadcast content in favor of a presidential candidate last elections with whom the said official had contracted millions of advertising deals as its account executive.
Solis vehemently refused this top official’s orchestration last elections, such as surreptitiously peddling out P20,000 for station managers a week in exchange for towing a black propaganda campaign line against his leading opponent in a presidential race.
DODONG SOLIS. Defending ethical tenets of media practice
The same official also forced a script on station managers, including Solis, regarding how this black propaganda in favor the former’s politician-client, must be carried out, a thing Solis disobeyed in deference to the ethical tenets of media practice.
The same top official had been repeatedly proposing that RMN DXDC Davao provincial reporters double as account executives, a move that Solis staunchly opposed.
Also, actions of members of a political family in Davao City (with whom Solis is known to be a critic of) on top RMN management officials in Makati tell that they wanted Solis out in Davao .
Since then, another RMN top management official, who also happens to be one of the network owners, had been telling the staff that the posts of provincial reporters are unnecessary. He was actually just repeating an earlier proposal by the other official who declared he wanted to make provincial reporters double as account executives.
This official, the one who also belongs to the family owning the network had been hurling insults on the RMN Davao staff regarding its programming, calling it “poorly conceived.” Again, this official did so in spite of the fact that RMN DXDC Davao has been the topping the surveys.
By doing so, RMN media workers could not help but think this top management official/one of the owners, is merely engaging in fault-finding to fulfill a scheme he had been insinuating, which is to cut down the number of workers.
As this clearly poses a threat to job security, media workers were prompted to find a way to protect their ranks. That is, constituting themselves into a union.
The bigwigs at RMN should have realized that the revenues enjoyed by the media company could not have been achieved were it not for the painstaking work and dedication of its workers.
Ironically, the wages received by RMN Davao station workers for the backbreaking job, amounts only to a small fraction of the huge revenues the workers turned in to the RMN Company.
In fact all the personnel’s salary combined, plus the expenses required to run operations of the station amount only to a measly 20%-25% on the average, of the total revenues that RMN DXDC Davao remit monthly to the Company.
It is no secret that Dodong Solis is a “progressive-minded” radio broadcaster, in fact one of the most of his kind in Davao and RMN Davao’s brand of programming unlike the mainstream fare, is unique and out of the box. It is biased in giving the underprivileged and neglected sectors the chance for their conditions and calls to be heard in the airwaves, as well as the privilege to be provided with information helpful in making them understand the truth about their situation. It is a brand of programming that endeared them to the common folk so to speak and kept them on the top ratings.
Colleagues at RMN-DXDC Davao also figured prominently in protest actions against any move by government authority to curtail the rights of journalists and freedom of the press, such as the mass actions held to defy the onerous Arroyo Presidential proclamation 1017 masking as a lawful order but was actually designed to muzzle the press and control broadcast content.
The campaign to free jailed broadcaster Lex Adonis for libel in 2008 would not have succeeded without the tedious support of RMN-DXDC Davao staff, in unity with media workers of Davao City .
RMN-DXDC-Davao colleagues were also at the forefront in the fight for the protection of colleagues whose very lives were put in the line of work, among others, Compostela Valley broadcaster Roel Sembrano who was physically attacked inside a radio booth by a politician he criticized on air in 2008; the harassment of RMN-DXDC news director Elgin Damasco himself who got death threats for his reportage of human rights abuses by Philippine military authorities in Paquibato District in Davao City, including the killing, abduction and rape of a rebel leader’s daughter, Rebelyn Pitao.
The prosecution of the Dennis Cuesta murder case, one of the successful cases among media killings in the country would not have been possible if not for the efforts RMN-DXDC-Davao colleagues, as well as their all out support in the ongoing struggle for the prosecution of media murders that happened recently in the Davao region – the case of radioman Jessie Camangyan who was murdered last June 14, and followed by the killing of Nestor Bedolido, a tabloid reporter based in Digos City on June 19, among others.
In the light of these incidents, we could only see the move to suspend Solis, who also anchors a daily primetime radio program—as a machination intended to silence him and the brand of programming that RMN Davao Station workers have collectively formulated at his steering, including a move to censure him for his recent show of staunch opposition to attempts of media owners to manipulate broadcast content.
Likewise, we see this as an underhanded move to discredit his position as the manager of a network station which has been popular because of its programming that give voice to the people considered voiceless in society.
Just like what is happening at ABS-CBN, the repression experienced at RMN-DXDC Davao is a stark reminder of the reality that the Philippine media still belongs to capitalist hands where media workers are treated as nothing but means to amass profits.
This is as if the dangerous working conditions that media workers face at present where truth-tellers in our society have become subjects of liquidations and attacks of powerful entities who become subjects of criticisms and reportage, are not enough.
A condition where the economic rights of media workers are threatened only serves to undermine a free press even more.
Our fellow media workers at RMN-DXDC Davao have been known for militancy in the protection of the rights and welfare of the working press and it is our turn to give them our support now.
We call on our colleagues to support beleaguered fellow workers at RMN-DXDC Davao and unite with them in resisting the harassment they are facing from media establishment owners who do not have respect and dignity for the working press.
Let us stand by them in these difficult times and unite with them in their struggles.
Let our unity be a reminder that capitalists may own the media establishment but they do not have the liberty to dictate upon the content of every outlet’s journalistic output.
Let our unity serve as a reminder to these owners of media establishments that, over profits, at greater stake is the interest of the public, for whom every working journalist is only beholden to serve.
Let our unity be a reminder of our continuing struggle for the media to be allowed to freely report on events, and to freely and vigorously comment on them, in order to enable a free people to protect itself from the inevitable abuse of power, and Democracy itself; that Constitutional right to ensure a free press should be observed at all times; that the role of press is so important in a free society that journalist is the only job singled out for constitutional protection precisely because no less, history has proven, that civil liberties are irreparably impaired without press freedom.
We call on all sectors of society to rally behind the cause of the working journalists because only a free press can be the people’s defense against deception, intimidation, and subjugation from forces inimical to people’s welfare.
Let us unite to free the working press from the burdens of fear and poverty!
JOURNALISTS STAND UP, UNITE,
FOR A FREE PRESS FOR THE FILIPINO PEOPLE!!!!
National Union of Journalists of the Philippines NUJP
Davao City Chapter